SOUTH POINT, Hawaii – Hours after getting jolted by a moderate earthquake, residents of Hawaii’s Big Island holed up for a different force of nature Tuesday: Hurricane Flossie, which brought pounding 25-foot waves and strong winds in a powerful but glancing blow.
Schools and many businesses closed and shelters opened in anticipation of the hurricane, which was downgraded to a Category 2 with top sustained winds of 105 mph. The slowing storm began moving past the Big Island in the afternoon and was expected to pass within 85 miles late Tuesday with winds exceeding 40 mph and 10 inches of rain.
The storm comes on the heels of a 5.4-magnitude earthquake centered 25 miles south of Hilo. The quake Monday night caused a small landslide, but there were no reports of injuries or structural damage, said Tom Brown, a spokesman for Hawaii County Civil Defense.
More than two dozen aftershocks followed, the largest measuring magnitude 3.2, said Jim Kauahikaua, scientist in charge at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Flossie will pass the Hawaiian Island chain and weaken below hurricane strength within 48 hours.
Anticipating Flossie, the Federal Emergency Management Agency dispatched a 20-person advance emergency response team that arrived in Hawaii on Monday, spokeswoman Kim Walz said. The team includes specialists in areas of transportation, aviation, public works and health.