Hurricane sends winds, rains to Hawaii island
Kailua-kona, Hawaii — Hurricane Ana was carving a path south of Hawaii early Saturday, producing high waves, strong winds and heavy rains that prompted a flood advisory.
The center of the powerful Pacific storm was about 170 miles southwest of the Big Island as it passed early Saturday morning and about 225 miles from Honolulu, the National Weather Service said.
There was little chance for hurricane conditions on the islands, but a tropical storm watch remained in effect throughout the archipelago and the strongest winds were about 80 mph, forecasters said. The weather service also issued a flood advisory for the Big Island.
“Any of the islands could experience tropical storm impacts … so it’s important to still prepare and make plans,” said Chris Brenchley, a weather service meteorologist.
Waves were expected to crest to 10 to 15 feet on both the North and South shores of Hawaii’s islands late Saturday and to remain tall through Sunday.5The National Weather Service had a flood advisory in place for Big Island until 1:30 a.m. Saturday (4:30 a.m. PDT), saying rain had been falling in some areas at a rate of 2 to 3 inches an hour. However, the weather service told The Associated Press later that it had no reports of flooding.
Ana became a Category 1 hurricane earlier in the day when it was about 230 miles south of Hilo.
Shortly before midnight, it had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and was churning along its course at 13 mph.
The hurricane was expected to gradually weaken to become a tropical storm again by early Sunday morning, Brenchley said.
Swells were picking up on the Big Island’s south shores Friday afternoon, with 15-foot waves seen in Pohoiki Bay.
The approaching storm didn’t stop some tourists in Honolulu from spending time around the beach.
“We cannot see any threat here,” said Sergei Bygchkov of Vancouver, Canada. “It’s just a little bit rainy and that’s it and a little bit windy.”
The waves remained small on Oahu on Friday morning, where surfers and paddle boarders caught a few rides at Waikiki Beach.
Kim and Adam Stocker from New Hampshire were exploring the Big Island’s West side, and weren’t going to let a storm interfere with their first vacation to Hawaii.
“It’s like ‘I don’t care, I’m going. Hurricane or not,’” said Adam Stocker, 49. “I got the time off. It’s already paid for.”
About 6 to 8 inches of rain was expected, although some isolated areas could get up to a foot of rain.
Vicky Hall, from Manchester, England, had to leave a Big Island campground Friday morning because it closed. Her fiance and friends booked two nights lodging so they would have a place to spend the night.
She doesn’t get to experience tropical storms at home, so she found it a little exciting.
“We’re not worried. We just wish we could go to the beach,” said, Hall, 29, while sunbathing on a grassy lawn in the Alii Drive tourist district.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie proclaimed an emergency to help the state respond to the storm.
The American Red Cross planned to opened evacuation shelters on the Big Island at noon. Island Air planned to suspend its Maui and Lanai flights Saturday afternoon and all flights Sunday, but airports remained open.
On Oahu, buses and trash pickup remained on their normal schedule. Less rain was expected than previously predicted, but officials remained concerned about high surf, storm surge and flooding, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.
“It looks a little better, but we’re still preparing for the worst,” Caldwell said. “We don’t want to scare anybody if unnecessary, but we want to be ready.”
Camping permits on Oahu were revoked for the weekend, but most parks remained open except for Hanauma Bay, which will be closed on Sunday.
The weather service issued a flash flood watch for the entire state from Friday through Sunday, indicating flooding is possible anywhere in the archipelago.