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Hawaii Prepares for Season's First Hurricane

Residents of the Pacific Ocean island chain of Hawaii are bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Jimena, the first hurricane of the season to approach the islands.

The U.S. Weather Service says the center of the hurricane, moving steadily westward across the Pacific at 22 kilometers per hour, is expected to pass some 75 kilometers south of the Big Island of Hawaii with high winds, strong surfs and heavy rain.

While no evacuations have been ordered, local authorities were calling for the cancellation of all ocean and beach activities at the popular tourist destination.

The last hurricane to hit Hawaii, Iniki, caused millions of dollars in damage when it struck the island of Kauai in 1992.

Meanwhile in the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Fabian is gathering strength, but meteorologists say it is too early to predict whether it will pose any threat to the United States.

The U.S. Weather Service upgraded the hurricane from Category 3 to a dangerous Category 4, with sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour.

U.S. government forecasters have predicted six to nine hurricanes in the current 2003 season, which runs from June until the end of November.