Iselle Hits Hawaii – Julio Slated to Miss

Hurricanes Iselle and Julio

Residents of Honolulu dodged a major bullet after Hurricane Iselle slammed into the Big Island of Hawaii with winds of up to 90 mph this past week. While the hurricane’s impact to Oahu was minimal, residents of the Big Island were adversely effected.

From Wikipedia:

Upon making landfall on Hawaii, Iselle became the first tropical cyclone of at least tropical storm intensity to make landfall on any of the state’s islands since Hurricane Iniki in 1992, and the first to do so on Big Island since 1958. Moving ashore, Iselle brought damaging surf along the east coast of the island, and strong winds unroofed homes near Hilo and downed trees. These winds also felled power lines, causing widespread outages impacting roughly 21,800 electricity customers. A geothermal plant in Puna released toxic hydrogen sulfide gases upon losing its power sources, prompting officials to urge an exodus of the immediate area. A water treatment plant in Kula on Maui also shut down due to power failure, prompting the conservation of water supplies in that area.

Reports from family and friends on the Big Island indicated plenty of rain but minimal gusty winds (along the Hamakua Coast), a long lasting power outage (Honokaa) and to add insult to injury, a 4.5 magnitude earthquake occurring the same morning (August 7) of the hurricane strike. My sister in Honokaa reported that she felt it, but overall there was no damage from the temblor.

Meanwhile the most impact to Honolulu / Oahu from Iselle came on Friday, August 8 after the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm.  State and County offices including all public schools closed for the day. Parks as well as several major shopping centers and businesses also closed for the day.

I roamed the Waikiki – Kapiolani Park – Diamond Head area for some photos that morning. For the most part there was very minimal winds, some sunshine, a lot of tourists milling about and a short burst of heavy rain up in Diamond Head. See photos below.

Overall Hawaii dodged a bullet.

Meanwhile Hurricane Julio which has been slightly downgraded to Category 1 as of this writing, is moving on a northwesterly track and is expected to miss the islands completely. That is good news.

Tropical Storm Iselle 8-8-2014

Storm clouds obscure the morning sunlight near Kapiolani Park.

Tropical Storm Iselle 8-8-2014

A drenching rain falls near the Diamond Head lighthouse.

Tropical Storm Iselle 8-8-2014

A jogger caught in the rain.

Tropical Storm Iselle 8-8-2014

Big rain near the Diamond Head lookout.

Tropical Storm Iselle 8-8-2014

Very minimal winds at Kapiolani Park.

Waikiki Hawaii - Tropical Storm Iselle

The sun did peak in the morning offering this small rainbow visible from Waikiki.

Last Minute Buying

Panic buying the day before the hurricane.

No Water For Sale

Bottled water was in very short supply. Next time stock up early!

All photos except the satellite view at the top of this post taken by Mel. Satellite imagery courtesy of NASA. More photos on Flickr.

Here are some quick tips for the next time a hurricane threatens Hawaii.

1. Prepare early. As the disaster experts say, get your 7-day preparedness kit ready long in advance before a storm hits.

2. Buy devices that use AA, AAA or 9 volt batteries. As I was shopping this week I noticed nearly all of the D size batteries gone. Many stores had the smaller batteries. There are flashlights, radios and other battery operated devices that use these types of batteries.

3. Fill Your Vehicle Up With Gas – Always a good idea to have a full tank of gas on hand just in case the pumps don’t work for like days.

4. Fill your empty plastic bottles with tap water – Duh? Why the rush to buy cases of bottled water? If you have containers that can hold water just fill them up from your faucet. Tap water is still drinkable, easily available before the storm and allows you to not go to the store to stand in long lines or see nothing on the water shelf when you get there.

5. Have and maintain a landline telephone. Yes, many people have ditched their traditional landline telephone. Guess what? These phones usually work when the electric power is out. Cell phone towers require electricity to pass on signals. No power. No cell phone reception. Who you gonna call???? By the way, if you do have a landline make sure you have a telephone that doesn’t require AC power to operate. The simple ones that just plug into the line work best.

6. Weather radio: One of my favorite sources for weather related news and bulletins is a radio that receives around the clock broadcasts from the NOAA. You can get one for as little as $25, maybe less. I have an old Sony that receives AM / FM / and VHF. The weather frequency is on the VHF band.

There are many other tips I could mention. These are just a few.


Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.