A hurricane warning is now in effect for the Big Island of Hawaii, as Hurricane Iselle makes its way into the 50th state of America. This is actually the first hurricane warning that has been issued for Hawaii since 1993. If this particular system stays intact as a hurricane and makes landfall, it will be the first hurricane to actually do so since 1992’s Hurricane Iniki.
Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokai, is now under a tropical storm warning. Oahu, which includes the popular tourist spot of Honolulu, is also under a tropical storm warning. Kauai County, which includes the islands of Kauai and Niihau is now under a tropical storm watch.
It was expected that Iselle would weaken before it made landfall, but it regained the strength that it had lost late Wednesday. The winds were recorded at 90 mph, which made this system a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. On late Wednesday night, the Air Force Hurricane Hunters had measured a 115 mph flight level wind speed. Iselle is now roughly 400 miles off the coast of Hilo, Hawaii to the east-southeast. This system is now moving quickly at a whopping 20 mph and the currents are expected to bring Iselle on a west-northwest track over the next couple of days.
Iselle is predicted to resume weakening as projected before, but it still might not weaken in time for it to make landfall. It is now a very distinct possibility that Iselle’s center will pass near, or over, the Big Island of Hawaii on Thursday night into early Friday morning local time. It is then expected to track to the south of the rest of the islands as a strong tropical system on Friday.
This system is expected to bring heavy rain, high surf, flash flooding, and damaging winds to parts of Hawaii. Here is a breakdown of the forecast specific to different areas in local Hawaii Standard Time.
Maui County, Oahu: Sustained winds over 40 mph with higher gusts possible over mountainous areas. This will arrive on Thursday night and may cause downed power lines, downed trees, power outages, and possible structural damages.
Big Island: Winds of over 40 mph will spread throughout the area by Thursday afternoon and into the evening. Sustained winds of 60-70 mph with even higher gusts over mountainous terrain are expected on Thursday night. Downed trees, power outages, and structural damage are expected.
Kauai, Niiahu: The center of the storm is predicted to hit this area on Friday night and tropical storm force winds of 40 mph or higher is possible. As with the other areas, downed trees, power outages, and structural damage are a high possibility.
As for rainfall, a flash flood warning was put into place for all of the Hawaiian Islands because heavy rainfall is very likely, and rainfall totals of up to 12 inches are possible in some areas. The heaviest rainfall will be most likely over the mountainous terrain of the Big Island, and also the Island of Maui.
As for storm surges, the Big Island is most at risk. The surf height will reach 15-25 feet on Thursday and will continue through Thursday night. Coastal flooding is expected, and also damage to property is predicted in any low-lying areas around or on the coast. High tides on the Hilo Bay are expected to come at 1:20 p.m on Thursday and 2:03 p.m on Friday. Also, a storm surge of 1-3 feet may come with the arrival of the center of Iselle on Thursday night.
For Maui County, surf heights will increase to 10-15 feet on Thursday. The high surf combined with high afternoon tides on both Thursday and Friday may lead to coastal flooding in the low lying areas.
In Kauai and Niiahu, the surf will also increase to 10-15 feet Thursday night into Friday morning. Coastal flooding may occur due to the combination of high surf and high afternoon tides. After Iselle has made its rounds through the 50th state, it could possibly feel the effects of Hurricane Julio this weekend.