Felicia weakens to tropical storm near Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) - Officials are taking no chances even though the storm is rapidly weakening as it slips toward the islands.

Felicia has been downgraded to a tropical storm with maximum
sustained winds of 50 mph with higher gusts. It's expected to
weaken even more before hitting Hawaii late tomorrow.

Several islands could experience heavy winds and rains.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center says the storm's center is
about 525 miles east of Hilo and 695 miles east of Honolulu.

Parts of Hawaii are under a tropical storm watch. Several beach
parks on Hawaii's Big Island are closed today because the storm is
expected to increase wave heights. Large surf is expected to spread
to eastern shores of all islands tonight and tomorrow.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense is advising Big Island residents
to be on alert for sudden increases in surf heights and to tie down
loose items outside their homes.

A flash flood watch has been issued for the Big Island starting tomorrow.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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