The sixth named storm of the 2007 Eastern Pacific basin, Hurricane Flossie, is heading for the Big Island of Hawaii as a Category 4 storm. The storm is expected to begin impacting the island by Tuesday afternoon.

Flossie currently has sustained winds of 140 mph and is about 450 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, or 670 miles southeast of Honolulu.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center, part of the National Weather Service based in Honolulu, has issued a hurricane watch for the Big Island; the watch is expected to be upgraded to a warning in the next 24 hours.

The CPHC has forecasted a slight weakening of the storm, which is on a path that could take it directly over the Big Island late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

While the "exact path and intensity of the storm is uncertain at this time," according to the CPHC, hurricane-force winds are expected beginning Tuesday night.

The hurricane watch advised of rising surf tonight and Tuesday, with 10- to 15-foot waves off the south coast of Hawaii and eight- to 12-foot waves off the east coast. Rain is expected to begin Tuesday afternoon, with five to 10 inches of rain expected with 10 or more inches locally.

The last time a hurricane made landfall in Hawaii was in September 1992 when Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm, passed directly over the island of Kauai. The storm caused at least $1.8 billion in damages across the state.

Iniki hit just weeks after Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 storm, devastated south Florida.

Prior to Iniki, only two other hurricanes directly impacted Hawaii, both on Kauai. Hurricane Dot, the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii, hit as a Category 1 storm in August 1959; Hurricane Iwa, also a Category 1 storm, passed just 25 miles off Kauai in November 1982.

In the Atlantic basin, meanwhile, hurricane hunters are watching a tropical depression that formed off the coast of Africa and is heading toward the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. The depression, if named, would become Dean.

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

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