2 Hurricanes on Radar: Preparation Urged, Emergency Proclamation Signed

August 28, 2015, 3:53 PM HST · Updated August 29, 11:22 AM
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Ignacio graphic, 11 a.m. 8/28/15. Image credit: Maui County Civil Defense.

Ignacio graphic, 11 a.m. 8/28/15. Image credit: Maui County Civil Defense. Click on image to view in greater detail.

By Maui Now Staff

*Pacific Media Group News Director Wendy Osher contributed to this report.

Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation on Friday afternoon, in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Ignacio. The National Weather Service has advised that even though Ignacio’s track is still highly uncertain, the system has the ability to cause widespread damage across the state.

The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency is urging the public to be prepared as forecasters monitor a pair of hurricanes, Ignacio and Jimena and their approach.

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“We understand the public is fatigued from experiencing four major approaching storms so far this season, but we urge people to take the weekend to prepare their homes and families for impacts that could be felt statewide,” said Doug Mayne, Administrator of Emergency Management in a statement.

“Severe weather associated with Ignacio is expected, and with Jimena not far behind, we need to ready ourselves and our loved ones as much as possible with the time we have. We will continue to work with our county, state and federal partners and leadership to monitor the storms and provide the public with timely updates as we receive them,” said Mayne.

Ignacio Forecast to Strengthen to Cat-2 Today

Satellite imagery Aug. 28, 2015. Image credit: NOAA/NWS.

Satellite imagery Aug. 28, 2015. Image credit: NOAA/NWS.

Ignacio had maintained its Category 1 (maximum sustained winds of 74-95 mph) strength overnight, and is expected to strengthen into a Category 2 (maximum sustained winds of 96-110 mph) hurricane sometime today, according to National Weather Service forecasts. Forecasts show Ignacio weakening back to Category 1 status as it approaches, with potential impacts to the state being felt as early as Sunday evening.

At 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, Ignacio was located 780 miles east-southeast of Hilo; 865 miles ESE of Hāna; 900 miles ESE of Kahului; 935 miles ESE of Kaunakakai; and 925 miles ESE of Lānaʻi City.  The system was moving toward the northwest at 8 mph.

Officials say, “the current track remains highly uncertain; however, all islands are within the cone of uncertainty so should prepare for impact early next week.”

Potential Ignacio Impacts to Hawaiʻi

  • Ignacio and Jimena marine graphic for 8/28/15. Credit: National Hurricane Center.

    Ignacio and Jimena marine graphic for 8/28/15. Credit: National Hurricane Center.

    SURF: East and southeast facing shores of Hawaiʻi Island and Maui can expect advisory-level surf on Saturday and warning-level increases Sunday through Monday.

  • WINDS: Tropical Storm force winds could begin to impact Hawaiʻi Island as early as Sunday evening.
  • RAIN/THUNDDERSTORMS/FLOODING: If Ignacio tracks across all islands, impacts include extreme hurricane force winds, storm surge and widespread flash flooding. If the system tracks to the north or south of the state, there is potential for extremely gusty winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms. Hurricane Hunters will fly into Ignacio this evening, which should provide a more accurate forecast of strength and track.

Jimena Forecast to Enter Central Pacific Tuesday at Cat-3 Hurricane

The National Weather Service is also closely monitoring Jimena, which remains a potential threat to the islands. It is currently a Category 3 hurricane, and will rapidly strengthen to reach Category 4 status tomorrow, according to officials with the state Emergency Management Agency. Forecasts show the system weakening slightly and crossing the 140W degree line into the central pacific on Tuesday night as a Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane/Cyclone Prep Recommendations:

Hurricane Iselle hurricane prep, three days before expected landfall. Photo credit: NOAA/NWS.

Hurricane Iselle hurricane prep, three days before expected landfall. File photo credit: NOAA/NWS.

The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency recommends residents and visitors take the following actions to prepare for any possible hurricane or tropical cyclone:

  • Discuss plans with family members about what you plan to do if a hurricane or tropical storm threatens. Make an action plan, which should include details such as whether your family will shelter in place or evacuate to a shelter.
  • Download the Ready Hawaiʻi app from the iTunes or Google Play! store. This app can aid in your emergency planning and will list shelters if they are opened for evacuation.
  • Walk your property, checking for small outdoor items that could be picked up by high winds and check for potential flood threats. If time and conditions permit, clear your gutters and other drainage systems.
  • Stay tuned to local media broadcast channels and follow the Department of Education online for the latest information on possible school closures. Make sure you know the closure notification procedure if your children attend a private or charter school.
  • Set aside an emergency supply of any needed medication and keep a copy of your prescriptions in case you run out of medication after a disaster.
  • Visitors should download and read the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s Travel Safety Brochure.  For visitor related information and a list of closures due to the weather, please visit the ‘Special Alert’ section of the HTA website.

Hawaiʻi Red Cross Readies Volunteers and Supplies

The Hawaiʻi Red Cross has been working throughout the week to contact hundreds of volunteers in preparation for Hurricane Ignacio and Jimena. Organization leaders say they are ready to respond as needed. Red Cross logistics teams have already pre-positioned supplies, and volunteers are on standby for shelter, mental health, health work, damage assessment, case work, and logistics.

“We urge the public to take the time to prepare for the potential impacts of these storms,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO of the Hawaiʻi Red Cross in an agency press release.

Hurricane Kits: What’s in Yours?

Emergency preparedness pamphlets are available from the Maui County Civil Defense Agency. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Emergency preparedness pamphlets are available from the Maui County Civil Defense Agency. Photo by Wendy Osher.

People in the path of the storms should check their disaster supplies and replace or restock as needed. Emergency preparedness kits should include:

  • enough supplies for at least seven days in case someone has to evacuate.
  • Water (one gallon, per person, per day),
  • nonperishable food,
  • a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries,
  • a first aid kit,
  • a 7-day supply of medications,
  • a multi-purpose tool,
  • sanitation and personal hygiene items and
  • copies of important personal documents.

The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks’ worth of supplies at home.

You’ve packed your kit. What else should you do?

  • Emergency Operating Center on Maui. File photo. Courtesy County of Maui.

    Emergency Operating Center on Maui. File photo. Courtesy County of Maui.

    Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local media outlets for critical information about the storm.

  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind.
  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and get some extra cash.
  • Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have shutters, close and board up all the windows with plywood.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible.
  • If you have propane, turn off the tank.
  • Unplug small appliances.
  • If you are ordered to evacuate, obey the order, avoiding flooded roads and washed out bridges.

For more information on what to do before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane, visit this Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness Info Page.

Emergency electrical safety tips from Maui Electric Company

MECO workers, file photo by Wendy Osher.

MECO workers, file photo by Wendy Osher.

With the approach of Hurricane Ignacio to Hawaiʻi, Maui Electric Company wants to remind customers that electricity can be dangerous and electrical safety should never be taken for granted, especially during an emergency situation. Maui Electric urges customers to consider the following safety measures before, during and after a disaster or power outage:

  • Before a storm hits or if there is a power outage, unplug all unnecessary electric equipment and appliances until the storm has passed or until power is restored.
  • Stay away from downed power lines. Assume they are energized and dangerous. If you see someone injured after touching a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for help.
  • Should you need to evacuate, take emergency supplies and remember to shut off electricity at the main breaker or switch.
  • Make plans in advance to go to a safe location where electricity will be available if someone in your home depends on an electrically powered life support system and you don’t have a backup generator. Some shelters are designed for people with health needs—just remember to take your own medical equipment and medications.
  • When using a portable generator, carefully read and follow instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. Do not plug the generator into your household electrical outlets.
  • If you have a rooftop photovoltaic system, consult with your licensed solar contractor regarding normal and emergency operation procedures for your solar system. As a safety precaution, most photovoltaic systems are designed to safely shut down during outages. PV systems typically have monitoring systems which allow owners to check on the status of their system.

Maui Electric’s free “Information Handbook for Emergency Preparedness” – available in five languages – includes these tips and more. It can be downloaded at www.mauielectric.com/prepare. The handbook includes key numbers to have on hand, checklists for emergency supplies, power outage preparedness and recovery information, and household and food safety tips.

Coast Guard urges preparation ahead of Hurricane

File photo by Wendy Osher.

File photo by Wendy Osher.

The public is advised to use extreme caution and prepare for the onset of heavy weather expected to generate extreme sea conditions, storm surge and high surf throughout the main Hawaiian Islands prior to the arrival of Hurricane Ignacio.

Visitors to Hawaiʻi should heed all warnings from lifeguards and public health and safety officials. Although weather conditions may be good, rip tides and high surf may impact beaches far in advance of the actual storm. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and currents caused by storms.

The Coast Guard offered the following tips:

  • Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Local waters can also become contaminated due to runoff for several days following a storm.
  • Mariners and beachgoers should monitor the progress and strength of the storms through the internet, local television, newspapers and radio stations. Boaters can monitor the progress of the storms on VHF channel 16. Small craft advisories and warnings are also broadcast on VHF channel 16.
  • Additionally, mariners should secure their boats and boating equipment. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to protected marinas where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or to be otherwise damaged. It may be advisable for smaller boats to be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding and is protected. Regardless of location, all loose items aboard vessels should be secured or removed.

The Coast Guard is working closely with local and state first responder agencies. Once the storm begins to impact the islands, emergency responders may not be able to immediately assist those in danger. The public is urged to heed all evacuation orders. Mariners should seek safe harbor and shelter.

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