The National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu has issued a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch for the Big Island as Hurricane Flossie continues on a path south of the island.

The latest report by the CPHC has Flossie, a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 105 mph, located about 165 miles south-southeast of Hilo and 340 miles southeast of Honolulu.  The center predicts some further weakening as the day goes on.

According to the report, strong winds, around 40 mph to 50 mph, with stronger gusts, are likely to reach the Big Island by mid-morning (Hawaiian Standard Time), as the storm passes the island. However, "any shift in the forecast track towards the north, closer to the Big Island, will result in higher winds," the CPHC said.

The storm's current projected path will keep it south of the Hawaiian Islands and it is expected to further decrease in strength to a tropical storm later in the week, after it passes Oahu and Kauai.

The center is project to pass about 80 miles south of the Big Island by mid-afternoon.

Surf on the Big Island's south coast should reach 20 to 25 feet; on the eastern shores, more likely in the 10- to 12-foot range.

Locally heavy rainfall, with five to 10 inches or more expected, with the possibility of flash flooding.

The Big Island's south coast could experience "significant flooding due to wave [surges]; substantial shoreline erosion also is likely."

On the northeast coast, "localized flooding and shore erosion is expected."

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Dean, the fourth named storm of the season, is on a path towards the Windward and Leeward Islands. (See "Atlantic hurricane season heats up with Tropical Storm Dean.")

As if the impending storm's impact isn't enough, the Big Island experienced a magnitude 5.4 land-based earthquake Monday night, centered about four miles from Kilauea Volcano's Puu Oo crater and 25 miles south of Hilo, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The HVO reported that despite the proximity to Puu Oo crater, there does not appear to be "any changes... in the current eruption of Kilauea Volcano."

Just two months ago, a series of hundreds of small earthquakes occurred in the upper east rift of Kilauea Volcano, forcing the closure of portions of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and causing the lava flow to abruptly stop for about two weeks.

On July 21, four new fissures opened and lava is now flowing to the east of Puu Oo crater, in an area that has not seen an eruption in about 15 years. Of the four fissures, only two still remain active, one just barely.

The Dept. of Land and Natural Resources has closed the Kahaualea Natural Area Reserve, which includes Puu Oo crater and the new eruption site; Kilauea's east rift, including Napau Trail and Campsite and Naulu Trail; and the park's eastern boundary in the Puna district near Kalapana.

To contact's managing editor Kimberly Scholz, send e-mail to [email protected].

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