Hawaii residents stock up ahead of 2 hurricanes
Shoppers lift cases of bottled water in preparation for a hurricane and tropical storm heading toward Hawaii at the Iwilei Costco in Honolulu on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. Two big storms so close together is rare in the eastern Pacific. Hurricane Iselle could make landfall by Friday and Tropical Storm Julio could hit two or three days later, weather officials said. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
This image provided by NOAA taken Wednesday Aug. 6, 2014 shows Hurricane Iselle, center, and tropical storm Julio, right. Though it's not clear how damaging the storms could be, many in Hawaii aren't taking any chances as they wait for Hurricane Iselle to make landfall later this week and Tropical Storm Julio potentially hitting a few days later. (AP Photo/NOAA)
Shoppers stock up on cases of bottled water and other supplies in preparation for a hurricane and tropical storm heading toward Hawaii at the Iwilei Costco in Honolulu on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. Two big storms so close together is rare in the eastern Pacific, and Hurricane Iselle could make landfall by Friday and Tropical Storm Julio could hit two or three days later, weather officials said. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
Hawaii residents were furiously stocking up on essentials as two hurricanes churned toward the islands yesterday and weather officials asked the whole state to prepare for flash flooding.
Julio gathered enough steam in the Pacific to be upgraded to hurricane status as it trailed Hurricane Iselle, which could hit as early as today.
Much of Hawaii was under either a tropical storm watch or warning.
Hurricane Iselle weakened slightly overnight. Its eye was about 925 miles from Honolulu yesterday morning. Hurricane Julio is expected to strengthen slowly over the next day and a half or so. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 15 miles from Julio’s eye.
Julio was spinning about 1,650 miles east of Hilo, with winds of about 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane, said Lixion Avlia, senior hurricane forecaster with National Hurricane Center in Miami. It has not intensified in the last few hours, he said.
It is expected to pass north of the Hawaiian islands in three to four days. However, Avlia said it was still too far away to predict its actual path.
“Hawaii should be more interested now in Hurricane Iselle, which is closer to the Hawaiian Islands,” he said.
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, Lau said.
“We’ve been lucky so far. So we just need to really take this threat seriously and make sure everybody is prepared,” he said.
When a pallet full of bottled water ran out at a Honolulu warehouse store Tuesday, shoppers loading up on supplies hovered around until a worker refilled it. Then, it quickly emptied again.
“Days like today, in a situation like this, we just throw open the doors and hold on for the ride,” said Scott Ankrom, assistant general manager of the Costco. The busy store near downtown has had to continually restock water and sold as much of it Monday as it sold all last week, he said.
Judy Castillo of Oahu said she wanted to make sure her family was prepared before big crowds flooded stores and shelves emptied. “Two storms in a row? It’s like, hello,” she said, pushing a cart with two cases of water and other items from a drug store to her car.
Chris Pruett of Waikiki was anticipating the silver lining that comes from bad weather: good waves.
“We’re just getting water and preparing ourselves, too, because it could be bad,” he said. “Of course we’re not looking for a storm . . . but it tends to generate good waves.”