16 Aug 2007

Hurricane Flossie near Hawaii downgraded

7:21 am on 16 August 2007

Hurricane Flossie has been downgraded to a tropical storm hours after sending powerful waves, wind and rain toward the island on Hawaii's southern coast late on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu says the hurricane watch for the big island of Hawaii was cancelled, but a flash flood watch remained in effect.

Flossie gradually weakened on its westward path that skirted the Pacific archipelago, falling to a Category 2 storm with winds of 160 km, before being downgraded to a tropical storm.

Known as "the Big Island," Hawaii is the largest in the U.S. Pacific Hawaiian island chain, which has not been hit by a hurricane in 15 years.

However, officials took no risks with Flossie.

They declared a state of emergency for the Big Island on Monday, closed schools and parks, set up shelters and told the island's 160,000 people to stay clear of the coast through to yesterday.

The other Hawaiian islands and the biggest city, Honolulu, were likely to see some surf and rain, but no major weather hazards.