Hurricane Douglas was 440 miles (705 kilometres) east of Hilo early Saturday, July 25, 2020 (The Associated Press)

Hurricane threatens Hawaii with surf, winds, flooding

Hurricane Douglas was 440 miles (705 kilometres) east of Hilo early Saturday

Hawaii geared up on Saturday to face a hurricane that threatened to pummel the islands with dangerous surf, strong winds and flash floods even as residents grappled with escalating numbers of coronavirus cases.

Powerful storms are familiar to many in Hawaii who have spent the past several summers preparing for tropical cyclones. But the pandemic adds a new twist.

Luke Meyers, the administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, urged people get ready by learning about the hazards where they live.

“We know that things are going to get wet, things are going to blow and things are going to slide,” Meyers said.

Hurricane Douglas was 440 miles (705 kilometres) east of Hilo early Saturday It was packing maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 kph), making it a Category 2 hurricane.

The National Weather Service forecasts Douglas will weaken as it passes over cooler waters and encounters wind shear closer to the Hawaiian Islands. Meteorologists predict it will be near-hurricane strength as it nears the Hawaiian Islands Saturday and Sunday.

“The current path of Hurricane Douglas is going to be really close to the islands and it may make landfall,” National Weather Service meteorologist Vanessa Almanza said Saturday. “So at this moment, we still don’t know if there’s going to be a direct hit. Either way, impacts will be felt.”

The coronavirus was complicating preparations for the American Red Cross, which operates emergency shelters on behalf of local governments.

Many volunteers who normally staff the shelters are staying home because they are older or have pre-existing health conditions that put them at higher risk of getting severely sick if infected by the virus.

At the same time, each shelter will have less capacity because of the physical distancing requirements to prevent the spread of the disease, and more shelters (and workers) will be needed to accommodate people.

Shelters will need 60 square feet (6 square meters) per person or family instead of the 10 square feet (1 square meter) per person needed in the past.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said his county won’t open as many shelters for Douglas as a result of the staffing situation. But he still expects to have enough room for those who need to evacuate because there are so few tourists visiting during the pandemic. Travellers are normally some of the biggest users of Maui’s shelters during hurricanes.

The CEO of the Pacific Islands region of the American Red Cross was understanding of those uncomfortable about volunteering during the pandemic. Diane Peters-Nguyen put out a call for others who might be able to help.

“We do ask people to think about that and take care of themselves and their family first. But if they’re able, we really appreciate those that can, to respond,” she said.

Hawaii has some of the lowest coronavirus infection rates in the nation, but COVID-19 numbers have been rising in recent weeks. On Thursday and Friday, the state reported 55 and 60 new confirmed cases, both of which were record highs.

At Pearl Harbor, the Navy began moving ships and submarines out to sea where they will stay until the threat from the storm subsides. The Navy will either secure its aircraft in hangars or fly them to other airfields.

Hawaiian Airlines cancelled all Sunday flights and some Saturday flights between Honolulu and the other islands.

Hawaii is used to stocking up on food and other essentials to ride out hurricanes. Yet in one sense it is ill-prepared for the storms because so many of Hawaii’s single-family homes are older structures built before building codes were changed in the 1990s to take account of hurricane hazards.

A 2015 state report warned that these homes “will be vulnerable to structural collapse under a hurricane’s high wind pressures and wind-borne debris” unless they have been retrofitted.

Hawaii has been spared the worst in recent years as major hurricanes either weakened as they approached or skirted the main islands all together.

In 2018, Hurricane Lane came toward the state as a Category 5 storm and dumped more than 50 inches of rain on the Big Island, which is mostly rural. Forecasts had called for Lane to slam into Honolulu but strong wind shear largely broke up the storm just south of the state’s biggest city.

Hurricane Iniki made landfall on Kauai as a Category 4 hurricane in 1992. More than 41% of the island’s homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm.

Audrey McAvoy, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Hawaiihurricane

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Opioid crisis

Seventh in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

IRIS coordinator Sandi McCreight and one of the program’s volunteers have been preparing meals for more than 100 local seniors. Photo: submitted
IRIS offering flu clinic, COVID info session for Castlegar seniors

Castlegar’s IRIS Project is continuing to offer supports for local seniors

Touchstones Museum has opened up Nelson’s Cold War bunker to the public. The unique exhibit includes artifacts from the 1950s and 60s. Photo: Tyler Harper
Take cover! Cold War bunker opens to public in Nelson

The shelter was built in 1964 in case of nuclear fallout

Nelson’s Brian Boyes has been awarded a provincial honour for coaching junior golfers. Photo: Submitted
Nelson golf coach wins provincial honour

Bryan Boyes was honoured for his work with young golfers

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Child care

Sixth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read