HONOLULU — Hawaii residents were furiously stocking up on essentials as two hurricanes churned towards the islands today 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 tomorrow.
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 this 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 Centre 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.
Hawaiian Airlines will waive reservation change fees and fare differences for passengers who need to alter travel plans because of the storms. The airline said fees would be waived for those who were ticketed to travel tomorrow and Friday. They will be allowed to change reservations for flights through August 12.
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 in Kauai, 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 yesterday, 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 on Monday as it sold all last week, he said.