Hawaii stocks up on water as two major storms loom

AP

Hawaii residents loaded up on bottled water and canned meat Tuesday in preparation for the unusual threat of a hurricane and tropical storm barreling toward the islands.

Two big storms so close together in the Eastern Pacific are rare but not unexpected in years with a developing El Nino, a change in ocean temperature that affects weather around the world.

“It’s certainly pretty rare,” Franklin said. “The central Pacific doesn’t see nearly the activity that the Atlantic sees.”

When an El Nino develops, “those are the kinds of years you see more activity,” he said.

Hurricane Iselle could hit by Friday and Tropical Storm Julio could hit two or three days later, weather officials said.

It’s unclear what how damaging the storms could be, but those throughout the islands aren’t taking any chances. A grocery store in the coastal Oahu community of Waianae opened 15 minutes early Tuesday because people were already lining up to buy supplies. Bottled water and cans of Spam and Vienna Sausage were flying off the shelves, said Tamura’s Supermarket general manager Charlie Gustafson.

“Just about every shopping cart I see has at least one case of bottled water. Some as many as eight,” he said.

Maui resident Kyle Ellison said he’s trying to remain calm.

“At first I was pretty skeptical. It seems like all the storms we get here end up dissipating off the Big Island,” he said. “It looks like the second one is the one we have to worry about.”

He said his preparation so far has been taking his surfboards off the top of his truck and putting the truck in the garage. Friends with boats are scrambling to get them to harbor, he said.

News of the second storm system heightened the urgency to prepare, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said Tuesday. His county, also known as the Big Island, was expected to see Iselle first.

Hurricane Iselle is expected to weaken, “but it still could be at or near hurricane strength,” said James Franklin, chief of hurricane specialists for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The outlook for Julio is more uncertain. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu would issue any hurricane watches or warnings.