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Ana becomes hurricane near Hawaiian coast

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - The powerful Pacific storm churning toward Hawaii has become a hurricane.

The National Weather Service said Friday that Ana became a Category 1 hurricane about 230 miles south of Hilo with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

A tropical storm watch is in effect, but tourists and residents were making the most of sunny weather as the storm blew toward the islands.

The islands' south shores are expected to get large swells churned up by Ana, with waves as high as 10 to 20 feet.

Heavy rainfall may reach the Big Island this afternoon, with about 6 to 8 inches of rainfall expected. Some isolated areas may get up to a foot of rain.

Powerful storms threaten Hawaii, Bermuda

The storm is expected to pass 115 miles southwest of the Big Island tonight, and to pass the rest of the Hawaiian islands over the weekend.

The governor has proclaimed an emergency to help the state respond to the storm.

Iniki slammed into Kauai as a Category 4 hurricane in 1992, killing six people and destroying more than 1,400 homes.

The storm will be farther from the coast than predicted earlier, and will be a hurricane for a shorter period than previously thought, they said.

The soil in the Kau district already is heavily saturated from recent thunderstorms, raising the risk of flooding there.

The weather service issued a flash flood watch for the entire state from Friday through Sunday, indicating flooding is possible anywhere in the archipelago, said Chris Brenchley, a weather service meteorologist.

Ana (AH - nah) is expected to lose some power as it moves northwest along the island chain.

It could bring 40 mph to 50 mph winds to Oahu - which is home to Honolulu, the state's biggest city - and Kauai. Gusts could reach up to 75 mph near the storm's center.

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