Hurricane Hector to pass south of Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) – The Latest on Hurricane Hector churning closer to Hawaii’s Big Island: Hurricane Hector remains a category 4 storm but is expected to pass about 200 miles (320 kilometers) south of Hawaii’s Big Island late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

The hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) with stronger gusts possible. Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Honolulu expect the storm to lose strength over the next two days.

Hurricane-force winds extend about 30 miles (45 kilometers) from Hector’s center and tropical storm-force winds can reach up to 90 miles (150 kilometers) from the eye.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Big Island, where high winds and dangerous surf are expected as Hector churns westward.

Hawaii County officials are urging residents to secure loose items and be prepared for changing conditions.

Hawaii holds primary elections this weekend.

On the Big Island’s southeastern corner, that means voters are gearing up for the polls even as a volcano oozes lava and Hurricane Hector aims for waters to the south.

Elections are challenging times for candidates even in the best of circumstances. But Big Island politicians live on top of one of the world’s most active volcanoes and in the general vicinity of hurricanes that barrel through the central Pacific Ocean many summers.

This year, lava from Kilauea volcano has destroyed more than 700 homes since May and upended the local economy.

Many voters have left the island after losing their homes and jobs. Or they’re struggling to keep their businesses afloat because tourism has dropped dramatically.

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