Storm passes dangerously close to Hawaiian island

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Hawaii storm Hurricane Ana
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Storm passes dangerously close to Hawaiian island
This image provided by NOAA shows tropical storm Ana taken Saturday Oct. 18, 2014 at 2:00 a.m. EDT. The National Weather Service said Friday that Ana became a Category 1 hurricane about 230 miles south of Hilo with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. It was churning along its course at 13 mph. The hurricane was expected to gradually weaken to become a tropical storm again by early Sunday morning, Chris Brenchley, a weather service meteorologist said. The center of the powerful Pacific storm was expected to remain 150 miles away from the Big Island as it passed late Friday night. (AP Photo/NOAA)
Surfer Emile Meder, 23 of Honolulu, watches the waves at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sat., Oct. 18, 2014 as Hurricane Ana passes southwest of Hawaii. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
Tourists watch surfers out in choppy waves at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, as Hurricane Ana passes southwest of Hawaii. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
Surfers ride choppy waves at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, as Hurricane Ana passes southwest of Hawaii. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
A paddle boarder heads to shore at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, as Hurricane Ana passes southwest of Hawaii. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
A county bus is stranded on Highway 11 in Naalehu, Hawaii where heavy rains from Hurricane Ana flooded the road on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. Hurricane Ana was on course to miss Hawaii by more than a hundred miles but was generating high waves, strong winds and heavy rains that prompted flash-flood warnings throughout the islands. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
People watch high surf at South Point, Hawaii on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 as Hurricane Ana carved a path just south of the island state. The storm prompted a flood advisory and winds strong enough for officials to urge caution. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
Surfers paddle out to catch waves, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Hurricane Ana remained far enough away from the Hawaiian islands to allow tourists to enjoy the mostly sunny weather. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
Surfers and stand-up paddle boarders catch waves, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Hurricane Ana remained far enough away from the Hawaiian islands to allow tourists to enjoy the mostly sunny weather. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
This image provided by NOAA shows tropical storm Ana taken Friday Oct. 17, 2014 at 2:00 a.m. EDT. Tropical Storm Ana likely will become a hurricane by Friday evening but return to tropical storm strength Saturday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Ray Tanabe said. (AP Photo/NOAA)
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HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii residents watched, waited and hoped for the best as a hurricane lost force but churned dangerously close early Sunday, threatening to batter several islands with wind and rain.

Hurricane Ana has been spinning on a parallel path southwest of the island chain for several days, and officials have opened emergency shelters and cancelled flights in precautions that come against the backdrop of a threat that hasn't materialized.

As Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell warned those on Oahu not to let their guard down, people at Waikiki Beach jumped into the ocean to surf big waves generated as Ana passed.

"Every time we have a hurricane," said 23-year-old, island resident Emile Meder, "we know it's going to be good."

West of Oahu, on the smaller island of Kauai - where Hurricane Iniki killed six people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes in 1992 - the threat was considered more serious.

"Those of us that were here during that time remember, and so we are very cautious," Mary Daubert, a county spokeswoman, said Saturday. "Until she's passed us, we all have to remain vigilant."

The center of Hurricane Ana was about 120 miles south of Kauai and 125 miles southwest of Honolulu early Sunday, the National Weather Service said. The hurricane packed sustained winds of 80 mph, but the storm has lost some momentum, moving along at just 6 mph, compared with 14 mph earlier.

Three emergency shelters were opened on Kauai as the National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for the island and said the eye was coming closer than first predicted. A tropical storm watch remained in effect on Oahu but has been lifted for Maui, Lanai and the Big Island.

Meanwhile, the weather service issued a hurricane watch for parts of the remote northwestern Hawaiian islands, saying hurricane conditions are possible sometime late Monday around the island of Nihoa in a largely uninhabited marine sanctuary.

Since the tempest grew to hurricane force Friday, the center has remained more than 100 miles from land.

The result has been high surf, occasional heavy rains and strong winds, but no reports of significant damage.

The American Red Cross has closed evacuation shelters on the Big Island, but those on Oahu remain open.

Island Air suspended its Maui and Lanai flights Saturday afternoon and all flights Sunday, but airports remained open.

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