A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Big Island ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Iselle on Thursday.
The warning also includes all waters surrounding the Big Island, according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
Hurricane Iselle was forecast to arrive on the Big Island Thursday as a tropical storm packing at least 45 to 55 mph sustained winds, gusts to 65 mph, and 5 to 8 inches of rainfall. High surf ahead of Iselle is slated to hit windward shores today, and Tropical Storm Julio could bring more wind and rain on Sunday.
Iselle is predicted to bring widespread flooding beginning Thursday afternoon and continuing through Friday. The National Weather Service placed the island under a tropical storm watch and the entire island chain under a flash flood watch effective from 4 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Saturday.
Big Island schools will close Thursday and select schools to be used as shelters will close at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Residents are urged to prepare for power outages, potential mudslides and flash flooding. They should also secure loose objects in their yards and have supplies of food, water and other essentials on hand as the state faces potentially the worst weather in more than two decades.
Located 695 miles east of Hilo Wednesday morning, Iselle was circulating 85 mph winds and tracking west-northwest at 15 mph. The Big Island is directly in its projected path. The system was expected to weaken as it moves into increased vertical wind shear and drier air east of the islands. Hurricane force winds extend 30 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend 115 miles in radius.
Forecast models at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center call for a 64 percent chance of tropical storm force winds in Hilo, a 58 percent chance for Kona and a 51 percent chance for South Point. Tropical storm force winds range from 39 to 73 mph. Hilo has a 5 percent chance and Kona has a 3 percent likelihood of hurricane force winds from the system.
Julio, now a Category 1 hurricane, could deliver a second punch Sunday. There is a lot of uncertainty about its exact course and the amount of rainfall and wind it will bring, NWS meteorologist Eric Lau said. Julio was located 1,650 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California and tracking west at 17 mph, with 75 mph sustained winds. It was expected to continue strengthening over the next couple of days.