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Big Island Prepares for Hector on Iselle’s Anniversary

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(L–R) Hurricane Hector, Tropical Storm Kristy, Hurricane John and Tropical Storm Ileana (now dissipated). Aug. 7, 2018, 2:30 p.m. PC: NOAA

The Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory reported that Kilauea Summit and its Lower East Rift Zone attack that began in early May has called a truce. Activity has quieted to the point that the observatory will no longer issue regular alerts throughout the day… unless the area reactivates, the observatory reported today, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.

Just as the volcano takes a break from its relentless months-long onslaught of earthquakes, fissures, vog, ash and laze-producing ocean entries, another potential hazard approaches.

Hurricane Hector, a Category 4 storm, is now on track to deliver at least a glancing blow to the same area inundated by lava.

Hurricane Hector, Aug. 7, 2018. PC:  NASA. Astronaut Ricky Arnold

Displaced Leilani Estates residents and others living in and around shelters, cars or tents in Pāhoa and Kea‘au are now seeking shelter from the storm, which is due to impact the Big Island as early as tonight.

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Currently, Hector boasts 130 miles per hour with gusts up to 150 miles per hour.

The area is familiar with nature hazards.

Hurricane Iselle was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall on the Big Island of Hawai‘i in recorded history.

Iselle developed southwest of Mexico on July 31, 2014, assuming a west-northwest course. Iselle continued strengthening for several days up until Aug. 4, when she reached peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, making it a Category 4 hurricane—like Hector.

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Luckily, Iselle encountered hostile environmental conditions and quickly weakened before making landfall on the Big Island on Aug. 8 as a moderate tropical storm. Its passage over the island disrupted the cyclone; Iselle later dissipated on Aug. 9, but not before wreaking havoc across portions of the island.

Government facilities closed, airlines cancelled flights, and torrential rainfall and strong winds resulted in widespread power outages and downed trees.

Crop damage was so heavy that it was classified as an agriculture disaster, and was eventually declared a disaster by Federal Emergency Management Agency (after initially being denied).

Hurricane Hector is expected to pass south of Hawai‘i on Wednesday. But before Big Islanders breathe that long-overdue sigh of relief… Hector seems to have invited his cousins to cross of the Central Pacific.

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Over 1,400 miles east of Hector is Kristy, which had strengthened quickly into a tropical storm by this morning.

About 1,000 miles east of Kristy and closer to Mexico’s Pacific Coast early Tuesday morning are Hurricane John and Tropical Storm Ileana (which already dissipated this morning).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an above average 2018 hurricane season. We’re off to a good start.

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