ROTTERDAM, August 9 -- Downgraded from hurricane strength, Iselle hits Hawaii causing power outages as people flee to evacuation centres.
Tropical Storm Iselle has battered Hawaii with driving winds and rising surf knocking down trees and causing power outages, the first of two major storms due to hit the archipelago as the more powerful Hurricane Julio gathered steam behind it.
More than 1,200 people flocked to evacuation shelters across the Big Island, according to the County of Hawaii Civil Defence, as heavy rains and strong winds pummeled areas of East Hawaii from the Puna area to the town of Hilo. Hawaii Electric Light Company had about 5,000 customers without power, mostly in East Hawaii, a Hawaii County official said on Friday.
With its eye still about 80km south of Hilo, on the Big island, Iselle had weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm, packing maximum sustained winds near 110kph, the US Central Pacific Hurricane Centre said in a statement about an hour before midnight on Thursday. The storm could still bring waves of up to 7.5m on southeast-facing shores on the Big Island over the next few hours before passing south of the state's smaller islands on Friday, Central Pacific Hurricane Centre meteorologist Tom Evans said.
Farther east, Hurricane Julio had gained momentum and was expected to pass just north of Hawaii late on Monday, Evans said.
That hurricane was upgraded late on Thursday to a Category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds increasing to near 190kph, the National Hurricane Centre said. It was expected to weaken on Saturday.
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