Hawaii’s Maui County braces for Hurricane Lester, with winds of 120 mph
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Maui County officials are bracing for possible impacts from Hurricane Lester, which has strengthened to a major Category 3 storm.
Maui County Emergency Management Officer Anna Foust said Thursday the island is small enough and the storm big enough that the whole island could be impacted.
Foust says she’s concerned residents may not take Hurricane Lester seriously after Madeline passed the Big Hawaii without incident.
Some business managers in the north shore town of Paia say they haven’t done anything to prepare.
Schools, courts and government offices are closing at noon Friday to give people time to prepare for the storm.
Maui County workers are deploying generators, topping out fuel and planning to open emergency shelters.
Lester is expected to gradually weaken but remain a hurricane as it passes the islands this weekend.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour and was 640 miles East of Hilo Thursday afternoon.
Hawaii County and Maui County, which includes Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe, are under a hurricane watch.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park opened some areas Thursday as Hurricane Madeline passed. But the campgrounds and coastal lava viewing remain closed as Lester approaches.
The state Department of Education says schools on the Big Island will reopen Friday.
Schools had been closed Wednesday and Thursday as Tropical Storm Madeline brushed by the state.
Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said Thursday that there were no reports of damages to schools. She says the department will remain vigilant as Hurricane Lester makes its way to the islands.