Hurricane warning issued for Hawaii; airlines make concessions on reservation changes
(CNN) — If tropical cyclones do give Hawaii a rare one-two punch this week, the schools on the Big Island and Maui won’t welcome them with open doors.
The Hawaiian government says all schools in Maui and Hawaii counties, which include the state’s four easternmost inhabited islands, will be closed Thursday, when the first of two approaching cyclones, Iselle, might make landfall as a hurricane.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu issued a hurricane warning for Hawaii County on Wednesday afternoon.
“Tropical storm conditions are expected on the Big Island of Hawaii Thursday, with hurricane conditions expected Thursday night,” the center advised.
Hawaii is a rare target for any tropical cyclone, let alone two. So with a second storm — Julio — also churning west in the Pacific with a potential to brush the islands on Sunday, residents and government agencies braced for the uncertain with varied levels of concern.
Some airlines are making concessions to customers ahead of the storms. For people who’d been scheduled to travel to or from Hawaiian airports on Thursday and Friday, United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines say they won’t charge fees to change reservations, and they’ll waive differences in fares for those changes.
In Hilo, customers formed lines from the front to the back of a Cost-U-Less store on Tuesday, clearing shelves of bottled water and stocking up on other supplies.
“A lot of rice, water, toilet paper,” store worker Mike Kelley told CNN affiliate KGMB.
Bottled water also was sold out at a Honolulu-area Costco.
“So we’re going to bottle up water at home now and just pray for the best,” would-be customer Lisa Viela told CNN affiliate KHON on Tuesday.
Jackie Collins joined a steady stream of drivers trying to fill up vehicle gas tanks at the same Costco.
“We came last night, but it was too crowded, so I thought, ‘Well, today I’d better go,'” she told KHON.
Not everyone was worried. Scott Murray, who owns the Hilo Surfboard Co. and has lived on the Big Island for more than 60 years, said many residents were more optimistic for good surf than concerned about damage and flooding.
“I’m not really worried about his storm,” Murray said.
Iselle and Julio were hurricanes in the Pacific on Wednesday, but both are forecast to weaken to tropical storms by the time they reach Hawaii, if they get there at all.
Iselle appeared to be the more direct threat, with the eye forecast to pass over Hawaii island on Thursday night with sustained winds near 63 mph, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Wednesday. Tropical storms have sustained winds between 39 mph and 73 mph.
The storm should bring heavy rain and high surf, which could lead to coastal flooding on islands already saturated by recent rains, the National Weather Service said.
Julio is currently expected to move north of Hawaii on Sunday, but outer bands of rain and strong winds still could affect the islands.