Should Hurricane Iselle continue on its current path, it could potentially be one of the worst storms to make landfall in the islands in 22 years, according to the National Weather Service.
“If it (Iselle) comes in as forecasted, the last time we were hit with that level of winds was back in ‘92 with Hurricane Iniki,” said Kevin Kodama, a hydrologist with the weather service in Honolulu.
Iniki largely bypassed the Big Island in 1992, but slammed Kauai, causing an estimated $1.8 billion in damage.
“Right now, (Iselle) is a pretty strong system. It’s expected to weaken to a tropical storm as it gets closer to the islands in the Thursdayish timeframe. But right now, the factors that would help weaken it are not really that strong. It’s scheduled to arrive as a fairly powerful storm.
“This thing is gonna bring the triple threat: high surf, high winds and heavy rain, all in one package. And as if that’s not bad enough, it’s got (Tropical Storm) Julio right behind it. That will make things doubly bad. (Julio) is still a ways out, so there’s a lot of uncertainty. … But we’re looking at the potential for two very significant impacts.”
Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said Monday that he and other public safety officials were closely monitoring weather forecasts, and he anticipated having a better idea by this morning concerning the intensity of the storm and its arrival time.
“We’re still anticipating that we’ll see tropical storm conditions on the Big Island,” he said. “They’re forecasting moderate winds in the 50-60 mph range, with rain and thundershowers. We also expect surf and surge, with 10-to-15-foot surf along the eastern coastlines.”
Oliveira recommended that the public pay close attention to various media sources throughout the week, calling this a good opportunity for families to go over their emergency response plans and to ensure that they have enough food, water and supplies to meet their needs for more than a week, in the event that barge travel to the islands is impeded by the storm.
“If we’re affected by the weather affecting the harbors, that could impact commodities coming in and out of the island. In Hawaii, we stress having seven to 10 days of food and rations, compared to what the Red Cross recommends on the mainland, which is three days,” he said. “We’re also stressing not to wait to the last minute.”
Dan Brinkman, regional interim CEO for the eastern region of the state’s public health system, said Monday afternoon that hospital emergency response teams were monitoring the storm and going over response plans.
Meanwhile, with the state’s primary elections sceduled for Saturday, Hawaii County Elections Office Administrator Pat Nakamoto said that she had been in contact with the state’s chief elections officer, who will continue to assess the situation.
“Right now, because it’s still early, we’re still gathering information from Civil Defense, and at this point we’re kind of at a wait-and-see point,” she said.
Foul weather has, at times, created headaches for voters in years past, “but nothing severe enough to where elections were canceled or postponed or anything,” she added.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit ready.gov or redcross.org/prepare.
Email Colin M. Stewart at email@example.com.