Sunday 21 December 2014

Tropical storm Iselle hits Hawaii

Published 09/08/2014 | 05:45

A pick-up truck slows down to avoid being sprayed by waves breaking off of Kamehameha Highway in Honolulu (AP)
A pick-up truck slows down to avoid being sprayed by waves breaking off of Kamehameha Highway in Honolulu (AP)
A surfer takes on the waves at Makapuu Beach despite driving rain and wind (AP)

The first tropical storm to hit Hawaii in 22 years knocked out power, caused flooding and downed trees.

But Iselle hit the state as a weakened tropical storm, and there have been no reports of major injuries.

And a second system close behind it also weakened and was on track to pass north of the islands.

About 21,000 homes remained without power on the Big Island, Hawaii county civil defence spokesman John Drummond said. At least 50 flights were cancelled by several airlines.

Those staying in shelters were told to return home, while crews and some residents used chain saws to clear trees from roads.

Heavy rains and wind from the storm's outer bands hit Maui and Oahu yesterday morning but eased later in the day as Iselle swirled farther out to sea.

On Oahu's south shore, near Honolulu, the cloudy skies started to give way to patches of blue as tourists and residents ventured out to see the surf.

Honolulu's lifeguard division said about a dozen surfers were riding waves at a spot nicknamed "Suicides," near the popular Diamond Head crater.

Lifeguards on Oahu planned only to respond to emergency calls, avoiding regular patrols.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Julio, about 750 miles east of the Big Island, was a Category 2 storm and packed maximum sustained winds of about 105 mph.

National Weather Service officials predict it will continue to weaken on a path that should take it about 200 miles north of the island chain starting tomorrow morning.

Weather Service meteorologist Derek Wroe said if Julio stays on track, the impact on the islands would be minimal.

"We would see some large surf. ... We could see some heavy showers. That's all assuming this track holds. Otherwise, we could still see some tropical storm conditions."

Hurricanes or tropical storms had directly hit Hawaii only three times since 1950. The last time was in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki killed six people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes in Kauai.

Hawaii is going ahead with elections today to choose congressional and gubernatorial candidates ahead of the November nationwide elections.

Press Association

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