Iselle to Give Hawaii First Hurricane in 22 Years
By PTI | Published: 07th August 2014 11:23 PM |
HONOLULU: Iselle was supposed to weaken as it slowly trudged west across the Pacific. It didn't and now Hawaii is poised to take its first direct hurricane hit in 22 years. Tracking close behind it was Hurricane Julio, which strengthened early today into a Category 2 storm.
State officials are assuring the islands are ready and people should prepare but not panic.
Hurricane Iselle was expected to arrive on the Big Island today evening, bringing heavy rains, winds gusting up to 135 kph and flooding in some areas.
Weather officials changed their outlook on the system yesterday after seeing it get a little stronger, giving it enough oomph to stay a hurricane as it reaches landfall.
"What ended up happening is the storm has resurged just enough to keep its hurricane strength," said Mike Cantin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Cantin said that means stronger winds of up to 110 kph, though rainfall estimates of up to 20 centimeters in a short time frame remained unchanged.
"Not a major hurricane, but definitely enough to blow things around," he said.
Iselle loomed about 645 kilometers east of Hilo early today, with sustained winds of 135 kph and traveling about 30 kph.
Cantin said the Big Island's size and terrain would help break up the hurricane, weakening it into a tropical storm as it passes Maui and Oahu late today and early tomorrow.
"The volcanoes on the Big Island will do a number on the system," he said.
Hurricane Julio, meanwhile, swirled closely behind with maximum winds whipping at 160 kph. The National Hurricane Center said it expected the storm to strengthen even more today before gradually weakening by today night. That weakening is expected to continue into the weekend.
Hawaii has been directly hit by hurricanes only three times since 1950, though the region has had 147 tropical cyclones over that time.
The last time Hawaii was hit with a tropical storm or hurricane was in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki killed six people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes in Kauai, said meteorologist Eric Lau.