Hawaii prepares for Hurricane Iselle
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.
State officials are assuring the islands are ready and people should prepare but not panic. Tourists wonder whether their flights and activities would be disrupted and tried to get in some last-minute beach time before the surf’s up, but ugly. And residents are making bottled water tougher to find than a cheap fruity cocktail.
“Everybody says this is the last day of good weather, so we came down to the beach,” said Shonna Snodgrass, a tourist in Waikiki visiting from Virginia.
Hurricane Iselle was expected to arrive on the Big Island this evening, bringing heavy rains, winds gusting up to 85 mph and flooding in some areas. Weather officials changed their outlook on the system Wednesday 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 60 to 70 mph, though rainfall estimates of 5 inches to 8 inches in a short time frame remained unchanged.
“Not a major hurricane, but definitely enough to blow things around,” he said.
Iselle loomed about 500 miles east of Hilo before sunset Wednesday, with sustained winds of 90 mph and traveling about 18 mph.
Cantin said the Big Island’s size and terrain would help break up the hurricane, making it only a tropical storm as it passes Maui and Oahu late today and early Friday.
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