HONOLULU — Hawaiians braced for two hurricanes that were headed their way on Thursday, with Iselle approaching the islands packing high winds and heavy surf while Julio gathered steam behind it, U.S. officials said.
Hurricane Iselle was forecast to make landfall on Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday night before passing south of the archipelago’s smaller islands on Friday.
Residents were scurrying to gather supplies as officials warned of flooding and outages.
“Some weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Iselle is expected to be near hurricane strength as it makes landfall on the Big Island tonight,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said.
Iselle was about 255 miles east of Hilo at about 8 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time on Thursday, while Julio was upgraded overnight to a Category 2 Hurricane and forecast to pass just north of the Big Island on Sunday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
State officials warned of the potential for flash floods, mudslides and power outages, and Governor Neil Abercrombie signed an emergency proclamation, freeing up funds and other resources, in anticipation of the storms’ arrival.
Hawaii residents were stocking up on basics as authorities in Honolulu advised them to prepare seven-day disaster supply kits. Shoppers waited in lines at supermarkets with carts full of bottled water, batteries and nonperishable food.
While Iselle appeared to be weakening with winds of 80 miles per hour, Julio was packing maximum sustained winds of nearly 100 miles per hour and could continue to strengthen on Thursday but it was forecast to gradually weaken by late evening and into the weekend, the National Hurricane Center said.
As they prepared, Hawaiians also had to contend with rumbling from underground on Thursday morning when a magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck the Big Island 12 miles west of Waimea, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.