Hawaiian Hurricanes

Two major storms are approaching the islands

Hurricane Iselle, center, should make landfall on Thursday, while Hurricane Julio, right, will hit the islands over the weekend. Photo: NOAA

Hurricane Iselle, center, should hit Thursday, while Hurricane Julio, right, will hit the islands over the weekend. (NOAA)

The Hawaiian islands are preparing for the arrival of two major back-to-back storms. The first storm, Hurricane Iselle, is predicted to make landfall on the Big Island as a category 1 hurricane as early as tonight. Hurricane Iselle is currently packing winds up to 90 mph. The second storm, Hurricane Julio, is predicted to skirt just north of the islands, with its effects arriving on the islands as a tropical storm over the weekend.

A hurricane hasn't hit Hawaii since 1992, when Hurricane Iniki (which came ashore as a hefty grade 4 hurricane) decimated the island of Kauai. Because of the cool waters that surround much of the island chain, hurricanes are relatively rare in Hawaii. Most major storms, which feed off warm water, are broken up by the cooler waters off the Big Island, all of which makes the approaching duo of storms a very rare occurrence. Since the 1950s, only two hurricane eyes have struck the islands.

Could El Niño-type conditions or global warming be tied to these consecutive storms? According to a post in Mashable, the answer is yes, perhaps to both. "Much of the water in the tropical Pacific Ocean is significantly warmer than average right now, from the western Pacific near Indonesia to the west coast of Mexico. This is in part related to natural climate variability, such as the development of an El Niño event, but some portion of the above average water temperatures may also be due to global warming."

The entire state is currently under a flash flood watch. Heavy winds, torrential rains, and solid surf are all in the forecast. To their credit, many of the residents of the islands are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. Bottled water and canned goods have been flying off the shelves, but many locals are remaining calm.

The state's governor, Neil Abercrombie, recently signed an emergency proclamation ahead of the storm, making it easier to tap into state and federal resources if need be.

If you're looking to track the storm or for daily updates, go to Star-Advertiser.com.