The National Weather Service has downgraded Hurricane Iselle to a tropical storm. Residents are still warned to take precautions. Strong winds have already knocked out power to parts of Hawaii’s Big Island.
This post was updated at 8:45 p.m. ET.
At the moment, Hawaii is forecast to receive a direct hit from a hurricane for the first time in 22 years.
As we reported, Hurricane Iselle was expected to weaken into a tropical storm before it raked the Big Island, but it hasn’t happened. The system still had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph as of Thursday afternoon, local time.
The forecast path of Hurricane Iselle as of Thursday afternoon, local time in Hawaii. NOAA
At 2 p.m. in Hawaii (which is six hours behind the eastern U.S.), the eye of the storm was 150 miles east-southeast of Hilo, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center reports.
All of Hawaii County is under a hurricane warning, and some of the other islands are under tropical storm warnings and watches. Check out the forecast map:
The Associated Press reports that authorities say the island is ready, but they are still urging residents to take this seriously and prepare. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports:
“Andrea Geron and her family had their bags packed and ready Wednesday morning if and when authorities give the word to evacuate their Edgewater Drive home on the ocean at Iroquois Point.
” ‘The totes are just inside the door, ready to grab and go,’ she said.
“Geron, looking at some modest waves lapping up on the beach next to her home, said she wasn’t really nervous about the storm. She said that’s a function of paying attention to authorities, using caution and being prepared.
“She said her husband was coming home from work early Wednesday to help move lanai furniture and other outdoor items inside.
” ‘As long as you’re prepared and listen to the warnings, you’ll be OK,’ she said, adding that the family with two girls, a baby and a dog is ready, if necessary, to head to the pet-friendly public shelter at Campbell High School in Ewa Beach.”
And as if one hurricane wasn’t enough, another one — Hurricane Julio — was right behind Iselle. The bad news: By early morning local time Thursday, Julio had strengthened into a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds at 100 mph. (Hawaii is six hours behind East Coast time.)
The good news? The National Hurricane Center puts Julio northeast of Hawaii by 11 p.m. local time Saturday. If this track holds, the islands will likely miss the brunt of that storm.
Hawaii should begin to feel the impact of Iselle later tonight. According to forecasters, the hurricane will bring strong winds — 60 to 70 mph — and 5 to 8 inches of rain.