HONOLULU – Hurricane Jimena (search) plowed across the Pacific with 85 mph wind Sunday, heading for a glancing blow on the Big Island of Hawaii with high wind, strong surf and heavy rain.
The hurricane, about 215 miles southeast of Hilo (search) at 5 p.m. Sunday (11 p.m. EDT), was moving westward at 17 mph, the National Weather Service said. The hurricane was slated to pass about 50 miles offshore from South Point, the southern tip of the state, sometime Monday morning.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center posted a hurricane watch for Hawaii (search), the state's biggest and southernmost island, and a high surf warning was issued for the southern coast of Maui. A flash flood watch and tropical storm warning were also in effect on the Big Island.
The center of the hurricane was expected to pass about 50 miles offshore from South Point, the southern tip of the state, sometime early Monday, the hurricane center said.
Wind of 40 mph, with gusts to 60 mph, was expected along the coast late Sunday along with 4 to 6 inches of rain. Up to a foot inches of rain was possible in some areas, meteorologists said.
Surf was expected to reach as high as 15 feet along Hawaii's eastern and southeastern beaches late Sunday and Monday, the hurricane center said.
Hawaii County Civil Defense closed beaches in Puna and Kau and police monitored conditions from Kumukahi Point to South Point. The agency said beachfront residents of the Big Island should be prepared to evacuate.
However, residents were largely nonchalant.
"Everybody feels like it's not going to do anything, like we're not going to be affected," said Sterling Holeso, manager of the Naalehu Fruit Stand. "Everybody's talking about it, but no one seems to be worried."
The Home Depot store in Kona reported brisk sales of emergency supplies and generators were sold out.
The storm led the Navy to delay Monday's scheduled departure of Expeditionary Strike Group One from Pearl Harbor. Five San Diego-based ships and the Pearl Harbor-based guided missile cruiser USS Port Royal and attack submarine USS Greeneville will leave Tuesday on deployment to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Middle East, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell said.
The last hurricane to hit Hawaii was Iniki, which devastated Kauai on Sept. 11, 1992.