By Jeff King
As darkness falls across the Aloha State, two powerful storms continue their march toward and through our islands.
Hurricane Iselle remains a Category 1 storm – with sustained winds greater than 74 mph at her center. Hurricane Julio has gathered even more power and is now rated as a Category 3 hurricane – with sustained winds of more than 110 mph. Julio is expected to retain hurricane strength while it passes north of the main Hawaiian Islands Sunday into Monday.
Iselle is still 70 miles offshore to the southeast of Hilo – but advancing steadily. The storm is moving to the west northwest at 15 miles per hour – and is about 180 miles ESE of Kahului, Maui. That would put the center of the storm to the south of Maui around 8 a.m. Friday. By that time forecasters say Iselle may weaken to Tropical Storm strength – but “weak” does not aptly describe driving rains, the possibility of significant flooding and winds approaching 74 mph.
Shelters and How to Get There
Earlier today, Maui County officials announced a plan to open emergency shelters across the county – and a bus schedule to provide a way for residents and visitors to get to those shelters. We have the details here and here. The Hawaii Red Cross wants to remind people who need to evacuate to a shelter to bring their own disaster kits, including a 7-day supply of food, a 7-day supply of water, blankets, toiletries, medications, and other necessities. Family pets are allowed at shelters – but pet owners must also provide food and water for their pets.
Earlier today, some refuse collection routes were canceled. For customers who are on one-time per week, manual refuse collection routes only that will not be picked up this Friday, August 8, 2014 due to the storm, the Solid Waste Division has made provisions to have these routes rescheduled to Tuesday, August 12, 2014. No other missed routes from Friday, August 8, 2014 will be rescheduled.
With the current forecast of Iselle expecting to impact Maui County through the evening and into tomorrow morning, in the interest of safety, Maui Electric’s customer service offices in Kahului will be closed on Friday, Aug. 8. Maui Electric crews are well prepared and ready to respond so customers should continue to report any outages, and/or downed power lines and poles: Maui – 871-7777; Toll Free Molokai and Lanai – 1-877-871-8461.
Power outage information will be posted on Twitter @mauielectric and via our Power Outage Notification service through the County of Maui. To subscribe to the outage notifications, go to www.mauielectric.com and click on the subscribe link at the bottom right of the homepage. There you can subscribe to email and text outage notifications.
In addition, as Iselle approaches, Maui Electric urges customers to consider the following safety measures before, during and after a disaster or power outage:
Before the storm hits:
- Turn off and unplug unnecessary electrical equipment, especially sensitive electronics which could be damaged by a power surge. Should you need to evacuate, take emergency supplies and remember to shut off electricity at the main breaker or switch.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their highest settings. If power goes out, keep the fridge and freezer closed as much as possible and food will stay fresh longer. (Make sure to turn the settings back to normal levels after the storm has passed.)
If your power goes out:
- If you plan to use a portable generator, carefully read and follow instructions in the manufacturer’s manual and make sure it is in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Don’t plug the generator directly to your household electrical outlets; this can cause power to flow back into power lines causing a safety hazard. Instead, plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy-duty extension cords.
- Use flashlights instead of candles or kerosene lamps which can pose a fire risk. Be especially careful with cooking flames indoors as a gust of wind could start a fire.
- Don’t use charcoal or other fossil fuels to cook indoors as they can create deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Cook only in well-ventilated areas.
- Leave one light on so you’ll know when your power returns.
If you see a downed power line:
- Stay away from downed power lines. Assume they are energized, or “live,” and dangerous. If you see someone injured after touching a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for help. Warn others to stay clear. Call the Maui Electric Trouble Line at 871-7777 on Maui or 1-877-871-84611-877-871-8461 on Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i.
- If a power line has fallen on a car that you are in, stay inside the car if possible and wait for help. If you can, try to break contact with the line by driving the car away from it. If you need to get out of the car right away because of some other pending danger like fire, jump out and away from the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground and try to land with two feet. Shuffle-walk away. Do this to avoid having your body become an electrical path from the car to the ground.
As a reminder – and under these “unique” circumstances, it bears repeating that a Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning area within 36 hours.
EFFECTS: The onset of tropical storm conditions are expected over Maui County tonight. Very large damaging surf is expected along mainly east and south shores starting late tonight.
Rainfall totals of 5 to 8 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches, are expected along the track of Iselle. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and rock and mud slides.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters. The surge will be accompanied by large and damaging waves. Surge related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.
A FLASH FLOOD WATCH IS ALSO IN EFFECT FOR THE STATE OF HAWAII FROM 4:00 AM TODAY TO 6:00 AM SATURDAY.