VIDEO: Maui Mid-Day Press Conference on Iselle Preparations
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx0SLPcIvqo /] By Wendy Osher
Mayor Alan Arakawa joined Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui and Maui Emergency Management Officer Anna Foust in providing a mid-day update on storm preparations in Maui County.
Mayor Arakawa asked that residents stay indoors this evening. “Civil Defense has recommended that no one, except for emergency personnel be out on the roads past 9 p.m.,” he said during the press conference. “This is very important, as we are expecting damaging tropical storm force winds of up to 60 mph, as well as potential life-threatening flash floods and rock and mudslides.”
Iselle continues to gradually weaken according to the latest forecast released by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center shortly before noon today. Forecasters say the eye is no longer evident in satellite imagery, but that even if Iselle reaches the Big Island of Hawaiʻi as a tropical storm, significant impacts will still be felt from rain, wind, and surf.
Maui Civil Defense Agency offers these preparation tips BEFORE the storm:
- Fuel family vehicles
- Store and secure outdoor objects and loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, garbage cans, etc. that may become airborne
- Prepare to cover all window and door openings with boards, shutters or other shielding materials
- Double check your emergency kit – make sure you have adequate water, non-perishable food, and medications on hand
Maui Civil Defense is coordinating readiness activities with county, state, federal and non-government partners. The county continues to monitor the storm closely and will announce closures and shelter openings as needed.
At 11 a.m., Iselle was last located: 190 miles ESE of Hilo; and 305 miles ESE of Kahului, Maui.
The impacts in the form of heavy rain, strong winds, and storm surge are anticipated to begin as early as 4 p.m on Hawaii Island, with the center of the storm passing over the Big Island in the late afternoon to evening hours. The agency says the northern edge of the system will carry the strongest winds at 60 to 70 mph, and 85 mph gusts on Hawaii Island.
The terrain on Hawaii Island is expected to zap some of the strength of the system as it approaches Maui later tonight and into tomorrow. Winds will be 45 to 55 mph on Maui with 65 mph gusts. Rain will be 5 to 8 inches, and as much as 12 inches in isolated locations. Dangerous surf will be 15-25 along the E and NE sides of the Big Island, elsewhere in the 12-18 feet mainly for E & NE sides.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center says terrain of the Big Island will act to grab the bottom portion of the storm and hold it back while the top continues to move—this will separate the system and weaken it dramatically. Rain will remain focused over the windward areas with prolonged periods of heavy rainfall.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state directors today provided the following updates and recommendations for Hawaii residents and visitors at a joint news conference with the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
“All levels of government are working together,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “We all need to stay alert, pay attention, and work with the emergencymanagement agencies across the state. Our emergency personnel are well-trained and prepared. I would also like to thank members of the news media for their cooperation in getting the word out in the interest of public safety.”
“Public schools and Department of Education offices statewide will be closed tomorrow,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “I want to commend and thank all of our employees, especially our Complex Area Superintendents and principals who have stepped up during this time of uncertainty.”
Department of Human Resources Development Director Barbara Krieg said all state offices will be closed on Friday and anticipate reopeningon Monday: “State employees, other than designated emergency response or critical services workers, should not report to work on Friday.”
Ford Fuchigami, interim director for the Department of Transportation, said that all airports are remaining open at this time and travelers are advised to go to the airport only at the appropriate time for their flight departure. Travelers should contact their airlines for updates on flight schedules.
Bruce Kim, executive director for the state Office of Consumer Protection, announced there is a price freeze on all commodities and any reports of alleged price gouging will be investigated and, if substantiated, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent. The public is advised to report suspected acts of price gouging to (808) 587-4272.
Hawaii Tourism Authority President Mike McCarthy reminded the public that hotels are prepared to implement their emergency plans and guests are advised to remain at their accommodations.
Attorney General David Louie announced that state elections will proceed on Saturday as planned, although some polling places may change. Current weather forecasts do not indicate that voting will be adversely affected, but officials are watching the storm closely. Further decisions will be based on the recommendations of the Office of Elections, county clerks, and the Attorney General.