Hawaii closing beaches as Hurricane Felicia nears

HONOLULU (AP) - August 8, 2009 The National Weather Service in Honolulu, however, said Felicia would likely be downgraded to a tropical storm or tropical depression once it moves closer to the islands.

Felicia peaked Thursday as a Category 4 storm with winds topping 140 mph. But the weakening storm entered the Central Pacific Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.

The hurricane was about 800 miles east of Hilo Saturday morning, moving west-northwest at about 15 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Forecasters said hurricane-force winds swirled 35 miles from its center, while tropical storm-force winds extended 115 miles.

The National Weather Service warned Friday that there remained "considerable uncertainty in the locations that will be affected, the onset and duration of heavy rains and the rainfall amounts."

Forecasters were predicting possible heavy rains and flash flooding from Monday through Wednesday, and the local civil defense agency advised residents to prepare for possible flooding from heavy rains and to secure loose objects.

Saturday's forecast was the first to include information from the Air Force Reserve's "Hurricane Hunter" flights. A plane approached the hurricane Friday night and Saturday, with more flights planned this weekend.

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