HONOLULU, Hawaii (AP) -- Hurricane Flossie roared toward Hawaii on Monday with its sustained wind increased to 140 mph, and was expected to retain much of its strength by the time it passes by the islands.
Forecasters earlier had said cooler weather would weaken the storm to a Category 1 hurricane, with sustained wind of at least 74 mph, by the time it passes about 70 miles south of the Big Island of Hawaii late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
But on Monday forecasters said they now expected a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained wind of at least 111 mph, to pass the islands.
"The intensity has remained stronger than what was originally forecast, but the track has been pretty much right on," said Jim Weyman, the weather service's meteorologist in charge in Honolulu.
The National Weather Service placed the Big Island under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions were possible within 36 hours. A flash flood watch was also issued for the island through Wednesday, with possible flash flooding in areas.
The Big Island is largely rural, with about 150,000 people, and most live in the west or northeast, not the southern portion expected to be hit hardest by the hurricane. Other islands are expected to get much less of the storm's wind and rain.
At 11 a.m. ET, Flossie was about 495 miles southeast of Hilo, with maximum sustained wind near 140 mph, up from 135 mph earlier in the day, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said. It was moving west-northwest at about 15 mph.
Excerpted from CNN.com