Hawaii Hit by First Tropical Storm in 22 Years

Iselle weakens as Hurricane Julio gains strength

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 8, 2014 5:15 AM CDT | Updated Aug 8, 2014 7:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Hawaii braced overnight for its first hurricane since 1992's Iniki—but Iselle was downgraded to a tropical storm when it was a few dozen miles away from making landfall on the Big Island. It still packed quite a punch with 70 mph winds, however, and has toppled trees and knocked out power to at least 18,000 people on the island, reports the Wall Street Journal. The storm has also hit a geothermal plant on the island, causing the release of an unknown amount of steam containing poisonous—and extremely smelly—hydrogen sulfide, the AP reports.

Schools and government offices across the state are closed today, many flights have been canceled, and with a second storm on the way, people are hunkering down. "People were buying water, rice, toilet paper, and Spam," a resident tells CNN. "I don't eat Spam, but a lot of people here do and it was going fast," she says, adding that "the power goes out fairly often here on the Big Island, so losing power is not really a big deal." Forecasters say Hurricane Julio, now a Category 3 storm, is gradually gaining strength and is on course to pass north of the islands on Sunday and Monday, KHON2 reports.

A hurricane warning sign is shown posted on the beach in Kailua, Hawaii yesterday.
A hurricane warning sign is shown posted on the beach in Kailua, Hawaii yesterday.   (AP Photo/Chris Stewart)
This image provided by NOAA and taken at 2am EDT Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, shows Hurricane Iselle approaching the Island of Hawaii, left, as Hurricane Julio, with a well-defined eye, follows.
This image provided by NOAA and taken at 2am EDT Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, shows Hurricane Iselle approaching the Island of Hawaii, left, as Hurricane Julio, with a well-defined eye, follows.   (AP Photo/NOAA)
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