HONOLULU (AP) — As the first tropical storm to hit Hawaii in 22 years passed by the islands, some coffee farmers on the Big Island began navigating flooded roads to assess damage to their crops Friday while tourists wandered the beaches of Oahu and surfers took to the waves despite driving rain and winds.
The first storm in a one-two punch heading for Hawaii clamored ashore overnight Friday as a weakened tropical storm. A second system close behind it also weakened and was on track to pass north of the islands by several hundred miles.
Tropical Storm Iselle knocked out power, caused flooding and downed trees when it crossed onto the Big Island. There have been no reports of injuries or deaths, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Friday.
About 21,000 homes remained without power on the Big Island where the main part of Iselle came ashore in a rural and sparsely populated region, Hawaii County Civil Defense spokesman John Drummond said.
Those staying in shelters were being told to return home Friday, while crews were out clearing trees from roads, county spokesman Kevin Dayton said.
The state Department of Health warned the public to stay out of floodwaters and storm water runoff across Hawaii because it's known to attract sharks when possible dead animals are washed into the ocean.
Heavy rains and wind from the storm's outer bands were also hitting Maui and Oahu on Friday as Iselle moved west, but south of the other islands, out to sea. Abercrombie stressed that even though the brunt of storm hit the Big Island and Maui, Kauai and Oahu need to remain vigilant.
"We won't be able to give all-clear until late this afternoon or early evening," Abercrombie said Friday.
Honolulu's lifeguard division said about a dozen surfers were riding waves Friday at a spot nicknamed "Suicides," near the popular Diamond Head crater. Lifeguards on Oahu were planning to only respond to emergency calls, avoiding regular patrols.
Back on the Big Island, coffee farmers on the south shore tried to get around fallen trees on flooded roads to determine any crop damage, said Randy Stevens, general manager of Kau Coffee Mill.
"It's raining so hard we're just trying to get the roads opened up so we can get to the fields," Stevens said.
The heavy rain and flooding seen in the southeastern Kau district is vastly different from the relatively drier Kona region on the Big Island's western shore, where much more coffee is grown, and the storm had little impact.
"We're all buttoned up, but nothing happened," said Bruce Corker, a Kona coffee farmer.
Hurricane Julio, some 900 miles behind in the Pacific, was downgraded to a Category 2 storm and packed maximum sustained winds of about 105 mph. National Weather Service officials predict it will continue to weaken on a path that should take it about 200 miles north of the island chain starting sometime Sunday morning.
However, there remains uncertainty given its distance from land.
"We're not out of the woods yet with Julio," Weather Service meteorologist Derek Wroe said.
If Julio stays on track, "the impacts to the islands would be minimal," Wroe said. "We would see some large surf. ... We could see some heavy showers. That's all assuming this track holds. Otherwise, we could still see some tropical storm conditions."
Iselle also weakened, having been downgraded to a tropical storm about 50 miles from shore at 11 p.m. HST Thursday, and within hours, its winds slowed to 60 mph, well below the 74 mph threshold for a hurricane.
Experts said wind shear chopping at the system and the Big Island's mountainous terrain helped weaken the storm.
Hawaii has been directly hit by hurricanes or tropical storms only three times since 1950. The last time Hawaii was in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki killed six people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes in Kauai.
The state prepared for the back-to-back storms by closing government offices, schools and transit services across Hawaii. But Saturday's primary elections, including congressional and gubernatorial races, will go forward as planned.
Travelers faced disrupted plans when at least 50 flights were canceled by several airlines, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said. Some airlines waived reservation change fees and fare differences for passengers who needed to alter their plans.
The storms are rare in Hawaii but not unexpected in El Nino years, a change in ocean temperature that affects weather around the world.
Ahead of this year's hurricane season, weather officials warned the wide swath of the Pacific Ocean that includes Hawaii could see four to seven tropical storms this year.
___Associated Press writers Oskar Garcia, Cathy Bussewitz and Manuel Valdes in Honolulu; Karin Stanton in Kailua-Kona; and Brian Skoloff in Phoenix contributed to this report.
Hawaii misses second major storm as Hurricane Julio weakens and passes north of the islands, according to Weather.com.
The most noticeable effects of Julio in Hawaii will be high surf on the east facing shores of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island; on Monday morning, the National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory for those locations.
Julio has been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane on Saturday evening, according to the report from the Associated Press below. At 5 p.m. HST, the National Weather Service in Honolulu said Julio was weakening as it traveled east northeast of Hawaii's Big Island.
From Associated Press:
The National Weather Service has downgraded Hurricane Julio to Category 1, the least powerful level.
Sam Houston, a forecaster with the weather service, says Julio's winds have weakened to about 92 mph or 80 knots.
The hurricane is about 355 miles northeast of Hilo and 510 miles east of Honolulu. Julio is expected come closest to Hawaii early Sunday and linger near the state into Monday.
— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) August 10, 2014
A large swell generated from Hurricane Julio near Hawaii has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a high surf warning for Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Maui, and the Big Island. Surf is expected to rise 15 feet because of the storm.
Julio, still blowing 100 mph winds, is expected to pass by 250 miles north of Maui, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports.
As the remnants of Tropical Storm Iselle approach Hawaii's westernmost islands, the National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for Kauai County until 10:45 p.m.
Hawaii's three largest airlines -- Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air and Mokulele Airlines -- either delayed or cancelled some flights, but Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that beginning Saturday they will resume normal operations. Other carriers are expected to resume as well.
Read the rest of the Star-Advertiser report here.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell gave the all-clear for Oahu after tropical storm warnings were lifted.
"Scheduled refuse collection will resume tomorrow, Caldwell said. City employees return to work Monday, but city parks will open this weekend, he said. HandiVan service will resume today and the Honolulu Zoo and Hanauma Bay will open tomorrow."
Read the rest of the Star-Advertiser report here.
The Pacific Disaster Center posted this map showing reported damages from Hurricane Iselle including several landslides, a washed-out bridge, trees in roadways, structural damages, and road closures. No estimate has been made yet on the cost of these and other damages.
— DisasterAWARE (@disasteraware) August 9, 2014
Sophie Cocke of the Honolulu Civil Beat paints a grim picture in the event Iselle was a direct hit on Oahu.
"There would likely be mass casualties," she writes, "and the island has 'limited capability, resources, and storage facilities to store and process human remains, which will include all unearthed corpses at cemeteries,' according to the plan."
Surprisingly, the statewide emergency plan only considers Oahu, not the four other counties in the state: Hawaii, Kalawao, Maui and Kauai Counties.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Julio, still a Category 2 storm, continues to move in from the west.
Read the rest of Sophie Cocke's report here.
Gov. Abercrombie released a statement commending the efforts of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, mayors and the counties and federal partners such as the National Weather Service and FEMA, as well as the hospitality industry.
"At the beginning of this emergency, I said that the spirit of aloha is something we need to carry through the night, and the people of Hawaii answered that call . . . Although some areas across our state have been impacted by the severe weather, our unified collaboration has served to protect the lives and well-being of our neighbors and guests," he said.
At around 2 p.m. HST on Friday, our HuffPost Hawaii editors took a photo of their views across the island of Oahu, featured below. Oahu's North Shore and windward side experienced the most rain fall and wind, while weather in other parts of the island remained fairly calm.
Tropical storm warnings have been cancelled for the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe, but are still in effect for the islands of Kauai and Niihau. Flash food watch remains in effect for all the islands across the state and high surf advisories are in effect for east facing shores of Oahu, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island.
On Friday, 3 p.m. HST, tropical storm warnings were cancelled for Maui county and Oahu.
— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) August 9, 2014
As of 2:20 p.m. HST on Friday, the tropical storm warning for Hawaii's Big Island has been cancelled as Iselle weakens and travels south of the other islands.
Tropical storm warning continues for the islands of Maui, Oahu and Kauai.
"Iselle is currently 120 miles southwest of Honolulu and is still producing locally damaging wind gusts over the smaller islands."
While Hawaii Island bore most of Iselle's brunt last night and early this morning, little impact was felt on the Leeward side of Oahu, other than gusty breezes and scattered showers.
A cloudy day over Diamond Head, Manoa Valley, Moiliili, and Kaimuki at a time when Tropical Storm Iselle was predicted to drop heavy rain and dangerous winds over Oahu.
Light rain fell on and off for about two hours in Honolulu, while other parts of Oahu had much more significant rainfall.
Crews had to remove a few trees that fell over scenic Tantalus Road in Honolulu Friday after Tropical Storm Iselle brought gusty winds and showers.
The bed of a tree removal service was relatively empty. Compared to the many trees that fell across Maui and Hawaii Islands, not much had fallen onto streets in Honolulu on Oahu.
A U.S. Postal Service worker waits in the sun as a fallen tree is cleared from Tantalus Road after Tropical Storm Iselle in Honolulu, HI.
A Honolulu Police Officer and USPS worker wait for Tantalus Road to reopen. It was closed for a few hours while crews worked to clear a trees that had fallen across the street.
A worker cuts a tree down that hung over Tantalus Road on Oahu.
A crew worker starts his chainsaw to cut out a tree that had fallen as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle's winds on Friday.
What was once predicted to be much worse aloha Friday for downtown Honolulu was nothing more than a cloudy day with scattered showers.
The view from Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii during Tropical Storm Iselle.
It was sunny in downtown Honolulu as Tropical Storm Iselle passed Oahu.
Oahu's North Shore and windward side felt most of the rainfall from Iselle on Friday.
A fallen palm tree near Diamond Head on Oahu after winds generated by tropical storm Iselle impacted Hawaii.
Big Island saw the worst of tropical storm Iselle's damage and makes little impact on other islands.
Hurricane Iselle had been downgraded to a moderate tropical storm by the time it swept across the Big Island early Friday morning, but it still brought strong winds, high surf and heavy rains — as much as 15 inches in certain parts of the state’s easternmost island.
Read the rest of Alia Wong's Civil Beat report here.
First satellite image of Iselle as it traveled through the Big Island at sunrise:
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) August 8, 2014
A report from Honolulu Civil Beat's live blog noted that Maui was lightly impacted by the storm while thousands on Big Island have no power due to downed power lines throughout the island and, now, rolling blackouts.
From Civil Beat's Sophie Cocke:
11:44 a.m.: Reports from Maui are that Iselle has caused little drama. Planes were still taking off from Maui airport. In Kihei, on the south side of the island, it was raining lightly with no wind. Upcountry Maui got heavier weather, but still, resident, Katie McMillan, had this to say: "Well, overall it was a pretty uneventful night. Just some wind and power outages. Feeling very lucky right about now."
11:55 a.m.: There are downed power lines throughout the Big Island and thousands lost power overnight as Iselle brought heavy rains and wind. Adding to the electricity troubles, HELCO will begin rolling blackouts on the island because of a generation shortfall, according to Mayor Billy Kenoi: "HELCO will attempt to limit the power interruptions to no more than one hour in each location, however the durations of the rolling blackouts may vary. HELCO asks that residents island wide conserve power as much as possible until further notice."
Follow Civil Beat's updates here.
MAUIWatch's Malika Dudley took photos of downed trees throughout Makena on Maui:
You can see Tropical Storm Iselle south of the islands as Hurricane Julio churns to the east:
Animation by Cameron Beccario
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 8, 2014
Concern about whether or not severe weather will prevent tomorrow's primary elections from happening are quelled -- Attorney General David Louie said polls will open at 7 a.m. tomorrow: "We're running the elections, business as usual."
Some parts of Hawaii Island got 15 inches of rain as a result of Hurricane Iselle, Mike Cantin of the National Weather Service said. Trees are down across much of the state and strong winds continue the danger for more to fall. Surf is still dangerously high in areas. While it isn't raining hard in downtown Honolulu or Waikiki, "the threat continues," Cantin said.
While Tropical Storm Iselle continues southward, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell updated local reporter Keoki Kerr that Julio continues to track north of the islands. "That cone of uncertainty", he said, "is outside of the range of Oahu. Let's hope it continues that way."
In a statement, Gov. Abercrombie said the reason Iselle looks "so benign is that it hit the Big Island first." Mauna Kea and Moana Loa are "formidable opponents. . . This is not Kansas, this is not Florida." Added, "We will not be able to give the all-clear until later this evening."
— Neil Abercrombie (@neilabercrombie) August 8, 2014
The Associated Press is reporting that Hurricane Julio is now a Category 2 storm, and is predicted to miss the Hawaiian Islands by about 200 miles.
The Pacific Disaster Center, based on Maui, is monitoring the systems as they move across Hawaii and the Pacific. There are no hurricane warnings in effect for Hawaii counties, but a tropical storm warning is in effect or the Big Island, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Maui.
Oahu's windward side and north shore began to receive intermittent heavy rain and moderate winds around 7:30 a.m. HST on Friday.
The island of Oahu is under a Flood Advisory issued by the National Weather Service until 10:30 a.m. HST, according to multiple reports.
"At 7:24 am," Hawaii News Now reported, "rain gages at Punaluu showed heavy rain falling at 2 inches per hour, near Kaaawa, or about 15 miles north of Honolulu."
Around the same time Friday morning, bouts of heavy rain and moderate winds could be felt on Oahu's north shore, about nine miles away from the windward side of the island.
- Carla Herreria
Maui was spared strong winds but felt heavy rains, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. A flood advisory ended after 5 a.m., but the National Weather Service said flooding conditions are still possible. About 3,000 customers lost electricity there, reports Maui Now.
NASA's "high definition viewing experiment" flew over Iselle as it was a weakening hurricane (now a tropical storm) and Hurricane Julio.
There are "no coastal watches or warnings in effect" for Hurricane Julio, according to a National Weather Service advisory issued at 5:00 a.m. HST (11:00 a.m. EDT).
The latest NWS forecast map shows Julio moving north and west of the Hawaiian islands over the next 3 days.