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Big Island Clear of Hurricane Douglas, Tropical Storm Warning Still in Effect

July 26, 2020, 1:24 PM HST
* Updated July 26, 1:37 PM
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Hurricane Douglas, 11 a.m. (7/26/2020). PC: NOAA/NWS/CPHC

The Big Island nearly clear of danger, as Hurricane Douglas passed to the north Sunday morning with essentially zero impact.

But the Counties of Maui, Honolulu, and Kaua‘i are bracing for impact from a storm expected to remain at category 1 strength until it clears the Hawaiian Islands.

Officials said Sunday afternoon that despite the dangers, many people across those three islands aren’t taking the storm as seriously as they should.

“The storm has not weakened,” said Gov. David Ige, adding that those in Hawai’i should not take Hurricane Douglas lightly, nor should they expect it will dissipate or move off.

Instead, the governor said, everyone north of the Big Island should prepare for conditions that could involve sustained winds of up to 85 mph, rainfall of up to 10 inches or more, and ocean conditions that will keep ports shutdown across most of the state at least into Monday.

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Those located in the northern half of Hawai‘i County should also remain on the lookout for wind and rain, as a tropical storm warning remains in effect there.

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Storm surges could cause flooding where it’s not expected on the islands north of Hawai‘i County, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said, which prompted the state to develop its first digital surge map in history.

A minor shift west from the storm, which the National Weather Service said Sunday can’t be predicted in real-time, could bring the hurricane even closer to Maui, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i, thereby exacerbating what are already expected to be dangerous conditions.

All non-essential state facilities are shutting down through Monday, as well county facilities on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. These include the University of Hawai‘i and all Hawai‘i Department of Education facilities, all state government offices including the Judiciary and public libraries, as well as county government offices including courthouses on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

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Maui has closed all transfer stations and landfills through Monday, while O‘ahu and Kaua‘i also announced the indefinite closure of beach parks until further notice. Beach parks on east-facing shores of the Big Island remain closed through Sunday, as well.

All commercial ports have been shut down by the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation until Hurricane Douglas has passed.

“We don’t want people on the road tomorrow,” said Caldwell, referencing dangers like fallen branches, downed power lines, and rough ocean conditions lingering after the storm.

Hurricane Douglas’s Path

The category 1 storm crept to within 50 miles of Maui before noon on Sunday, where the east side of the island was already dealing with heavy rain and wind gusts, said Mayor Michael Victorino.

There had been no other major problems or damage as of noon, he continued, though Hawaiian Electric reported two power outages affecting 3,000 and 2,500 customers, respectively, due to tree branches downing power lines. Those problems had been addressed by Sunday afternoon.

Maui is expected to remain inundated by heavy winds and rains through 5 p.m. Sunday evening, while O‘ahu is predicting impacts beginning around 2 p.m. Sunday and stretching as far out as the early hours of Monday morning.

Douglas will bring dangerous conditions to Kaua‘i overnight, which creates complications of a different sort.

“We are bracing ourselves for some weather impact,” said Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami. “Our concern is the direction of the wind, and (that) this event will be happening overnight for Kaua‘i.”

Kawakami urged all island residents working on home projects to secure worksites, so as to avoid the added hazard of loose construction debris difficult to see in the dark.

Beach parks closed Sunday at noon on Kaua‘i, and the mayor urged everyone to stay away from the water. He added that sirens would be sounding off across the island “soon.”

“We have been through this before. We know the drill,” Kawakami said. “We will get through this storm together.”

People who may be impacted by the hurricane are reminded to shelter in place. Residents should keep their gas on as long as they’re situated in their homes. However, if evacuated from their homes residents should turn off their gas before leaving for a shelter.

Several shelters have been set up across all islands, save for the Big Island. Information on those shelters can be accessed on the various county websites.

Those people with flood insurance should keep policy information on hand, should they need to file a claim.

The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) has dozens of employees on-call as it has moved to 24-hour operations as of Sunday. Hawaiian Electric also has scores of employees ready to deploy to deal with power interruptions.

Big Island Status

The Big Island dealt with only one such power interruption, which affected around 90 customers on the Hamakua Coast. The weather in Kailua-Kona was partly cloudy on Sunday afternoon, while Waikoloa and the Kohala District were experiencing overcast skies and light winds, but no rain around noon Sunday.

Rain and winds could still impact the Big Island, as a tropical storm warning remains in effect. The areas of concern encompass the northern half of Hawai‘i County. Beach parks on east-facing shores will remain closed through Sunday, as noted above, even though no destructive wind, rainfall, or surf conditions had been reported as of noon.

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