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Drier weather in forecast

The hurricane is heading on a northerly path, but that track could change

By Leila Fujimori

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:21 a.m. HST, Aug 10, 2014


Hurricane Julio, which had been in hot pursuit of destructive Iselle, will likely bid adios to Hawaii over the next few days, leaving little behind but high surf on east shores.

National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Cantin said the state should be drying out as Julio moves on a northerly track away from the islands.

"We could end up getting a dry period across Hawaii," he said Saturday afternoon. "Right now it's looking good."

However, he advised, "Keep an eye on it through the weekend in case there's a dramatic change."

A high-surf warning was issued Saturday for the east shores of Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island, with 10- to 15-foot surf through Sunday night.

Julio's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 90 mph at 5 p.m. Saturday, down from 100 mph earlier, weakening to a Category 1 hurricane.

Julio, 355 miles east-northeast of Hilo, was heading northwest at 16 mph.

The hurricane is expected to pass 250 miles north of Maui on Sunday, weakening to a tropical storm by Tuesday far to the northwest.

Tropical Storm Iselle thrashed the Big Island on Thursday with 75 mph winds, tearing off roofs, uprooting trees and pulling down utility lines. Heavy rain and thundershowers caused flooding.

On Saturday many island residents were still trapped by downed trees, unable to travel on roadways on primary election day.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman (D-Puna) said people in his district got hit the hardest.

"The people who got hit by the brunt of the storm are now feeling like they can't vote, and may not be able to vote at all," he said.

"Hundreds and hundreds of trees across roads that have taken our power lines down, so all those have to be cleared," he said. "Driv-ing around you see it … trees of every kind — the albizias, also ohia and Norfolk pine."

He added, "To compound things, cell service is down in many areas, and some never had good cell service. I don't know how many people are affected. The major arteries have been cleared, and most of the streets, but not all the roads in the rural areas."

Houses have been hit by trees and other things.

"My neighbor had a rock break her window," Ruderman said. "It was tossed up by the ocean."

County, National Guard and private crews were clearing debris from roads, the county said.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. crews continued Saturday to restore power to 9,000 or so customers, Hawaii County Civil Defense said.

The Puna Geothermal Venture power plant released steam Thursday night, causing Civil Defense to warn Puna residents to evacuate if they felt uncomfortable due to the hydrogen sulfide.

"The PGV blowout panicked a lot of people when they were told to evacuate," Ruderman said. "Numerous people said, ‘We can smell it, but we can't evacuate because roads were blocked.' It's terrifying. It sounds like a jet engine. There was an uncontrolled release for several hours. People can hear it, see it as a giant plume in the sky, and if downwind they can smell it.

"It made a terrifying night that much more terrifying for a few neighborhoods," he said.

A PGV spokesman said the release of steam was required due to downed transmission lines.

Hawaii County and National Guard teams were conducting damage assessments in areas hardest hit by Iselle, including lower Puna.

As a tropical storm, Iselle battered Maui, uprooting trees and causing power failures. Oahu and Kauai also had some trees toppled and a few roofs blown off due to the high winds.

Haleakala National Park reopened Saturday afternoon after officials closed the park Thursday as Iselle approached the islands. The summit and Kipa­hulu districts of the national park reopened after park crews assessed road, campground and building conditions, and cleared downed trees and rock­slides caused by the storm.

In the wake of the storm, a brown-water advisory was issued Saturday for Hawaii County. The Health Department advised the public to stay out of floodwaters and stormwater runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals and associated flood debris.

Iselle also forced the cancellation of visits planned for Saturday at Wai­awa Correctional Facility on Oahu, Maui Community Correctional Center and three of four units at Hawaii Community Correctional Center on the Big Island.

Cantin of the National Weather Service said Julio was expected to remain a "pretty significant hurricane" with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph as it moved away from Hawaii early Saturday afternoon.

"It's steering away from the state," said Cantin, who last year kept Hawaii residents apprised of Hurricane Flossie. Cantin was called back from a new duty assignment in Arizona to assist with Iselle and Julio.

Iselle is no longer a tropical cyclone and has deteriorated into a remnant low southwest of Kauai.

As it interacts with an area of low pressure, it could generate thunderstorms around Kauai, and residents might see flashes of lightning in the distance, Cantin said.






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