Hawaiians Hunkering Down Ahead of Hurricane Iselle

Hawaiians Hunkering Down Ahead of Hurricane Iselle

Residents across the state of Hawaii are scurrying in preparation for a direct hit by Hurricane Iselle, a Category 1 hurricane that’s expected to make landfall Friday. While the hurricane is being forecast to weaken to a tropical storm when it does make landfall, it could still cause widespread flooding, wind damage and trigger mudslides. Iselle started bring rain and wind to the Big Island on Thursday afternoon as it approached landfall. A second Category 2 hurricane named Julio is right on the heels of Iselle. That storm is being forecast to barrel just north of the islands early Sunday morning.

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State officials held a news conference Thursday, warning residents to be ready for Iselle as the storm is most likely going to dump several inches of heavy rains over the island as well as bring with it strong, damaging winds and flash flooding. Hawaiians were scrambling Thursday to stock up on necessities such as batteries, non-perishable food and bottled drinking water, which resulted in many supermarket shelves to be stripped bare. The National Guard reported that it was ready for the storm as shelters were being opened across the state. Schools were ordered closed on Friday and travelers were being urged to stay off the roads.

Hurricane Julio which is about 900 miles behind Iselle, had strengthened into a Category 3 storm by Thursday night with maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. Julio’s track may push the storm over colder waters churned up from Iselle ahead of it, however, Julio may be fueled somewhat by moist atmosphere ahead of it. Julio is expected to reach the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday but it remains unknown exactly where the storm will strike.

As Iselle’s outer edges were bringing heavy rain and winds to the islands Thursday afternoon, many people were flocking into shelters. Iselle was last reported Thursday night as being about 150 miles southeast of Hilo and heading toward the Big Island at just under 20 miles per hour. Tropical storm conditions are being forecast to extend to Maui early Friday and on to Oahu and Kauai later Friday.

Neil Abercrombie, governor of Hawaii, urged residents to stay on their toes and to be ready to evacuate if told to do so. Abercrombie has already declared a state of emergency so that the state government has access to emergency funding if needed. Residents were being told that both Iselle and Julio could cause widespread flash flooding, mudslides and storm surges & surf heights nearing 20 feet. Higher elevations on the Big Island could see very strong winds with gusts up to 85 miles per hour when Iselle comes ashore Friday.

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