Preparing for what could be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in years, residents on the Big Island are stocking up on food and water and seeking shelter for their animals. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning as the storm dubbed Madeline churned west Tuesday toward the island, urging residents to rush through preparations to protect themselves and their property and expect hurricane conditions within the next 36 hours. Hurricane Madeline, which was downgraded from Category 3 to 2 on Tuesday, was weakening as it approached the islands, the AP reports. But it's expected to remain a hurricane as it passes the state, weather service spokesman Chevy Chevalier says. Says a local resident: "There's always a lot of disbelief on the island that the storms will really be as big and bad as forecast."
Forecasters are expecting Madeline to pass just south of the Big Island around 2am Thursday. But if the storm track shifts slightly to the north, the eye of the storm could pass over land. The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, Chevalier says. Lester, a second Pacific hurricane, is still far from Hawaii, and it is expected to soon weaken to a tropical storm, he says. Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation for both storms. "I urge you to take immediate steps to protect your families, loved ones, employees, and property," he said in a statement. Public schools will be closed Wednesday and Thursday and around a dozen schools have been turned into emergency shelters. (Read more Hawaii stories.)