Hurricane Hector weakens slightly; expected to pass south of islands

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Hector was a Category 3 storm early Sunday as it churned toward the Hawaiian Islands, an archipelago that includes the Big Island.

The National Weather Service says Hurricane Hector is expected to pass south of the Big Island Tuesday night and Wednesday as it moves westward.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour and was moving west at 12 miles per hour.

Hurricane Hector was swirling harmlessly in the Pacific about 1,700 miles east of Big Island but it grew into a category three hurricane on Friday as its maximum sustained winds reached 120mph.

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Though the center of the hurricane will likely miss Hawaii, heavy rain from the storm is likely to pelt portions of the Big Island.

State officials urged residents to take precaution and prepare for the storm.

The US National Hurricane Centre said storms of this strength are considered capable of causing devastating damage to populated areas.

Hurricane Hector became a Category 4 storm for a few hours early Sunday but then dipped back to Category 3, still a unsafe force, as it headed across the Pacific, threatening to hit Hawaii's Big Island and possibly its active volcano, officials said early Sunday.

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Depending on its ultimate track, the storm could bring thunderstorms, gusty winds and increased surf to parts of the island and could also cause unsafe rip currents off the east- and south-facing beaches.

Wind: Tropical-storm-force winds (39 to 73 mph) are possible across the Big Island late Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Hector is our first hurricane this year", said Tom Travis, administrator of Hawaii Emergency Management Agency in a statement to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. Lava from the volcano has destroyed more than 700 structures, including residences, since eruptions began in May.

Two other tropical storms are also spinning in the Pacific: Ileana and John.

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