Maui braces for impact as Hurricane Douglas nears Hawaii

Douglas PC NOAA  NWS  NHC

Douglas PC NOAA NWS NHC

A member of Indiana Task Force 1 is headed to Hawaii ahead of Hurricane Douglas. However, forecasters said the Hawaiian island should continue monitoring the storm.

"We remain uncomfortably close to a unsafe hurricane here in the state of Hawaii", said Robert Ballard, the science and operations officer at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, during a teleconference.

The storm is over 1,000 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, but is moving west-northwest toward the island chain. If so, it would only be the third time in modern history, after Dot in 1959 and Iniki in 1992. Kauai would see the worst of the storm in the evening, possibly after dark.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said such experiences unfortunately help people to be complacent and they think disaster will never hit them.

Hurricane Douglas has maintained maximum sustained winds near 85 miles per hour with higher gusts, and is forecast to pass near Oʻahu and Kauaʻi tonight.

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At 4:00 a.m. CT, the storm's top sustained winds were around 95 km/h, the centre said. Douglas had maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour midday. Before that, just two other hurricanes have directly hit the islands since the late 1800s. "It could be a life threatening event", he said.

"Maui has dodged so many hurricanes", he said.

Oahu did not receive much rainfall, but heavy rain and wind lashed Maui, downing a small tree on the Hana Highway. Officials urged residents to shelter in place or, as last resort, to take refuge at shelters.

At a Saturday press conference, Abbott also stressed the dangers of people coming together to shelter or respond to the storm in a region that is simultaneously being slammed by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Antonia Hall, from the city of of Kihei on western Maui, said she took her porch furniture inside, bought nonperishable food and filled her bathtub for an emergency water supply, but the storm spared her area. Everyone must wear a face covering to be admitted.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said that across the state, 625 people in isolation of quarantine due to COVID-19 have affirmed they will shelter in place during the storm. Every among those shown they would shelter-in-place and not look for haven at a hurricane shelter.

Hawaii has some of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the nation, but numbers have been rising in recent weeks. On Thursday and Friday, the state reported 55 and 60 new confirmed cases, both of which were record highs.

On Saturday morning, President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for Hawaii to offer federal assistance to the state.

Hawaiian Airlines cancelled all Sunday flights between Hawaii and mainland U.S., as well as between the islands. A maximum of 15 inches of rain or higher is also possible. A hurricane watch has already been issued for Hawaii and for Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui, Molokai, Kahoolawe, and Lanai.

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