Two Major Hurricanes Threatening to Strike Hawaii


Hawaii is in the crosshairs of two significant hurricanes, Madeline and Lester. But whether the storms directly strike or just skirt parts of the state is unknown.

The hurricanes are both rated Category 3 on the 1-to-5 Saffir-Simpson scale. This makes them major hurricanes, defined as those ranked Category 3 or higher.

If either storm strikes Hawaii’s Big Island as a hurricane, it would mark the first such occurrence ever recorded since 1949.

Hurricane Madeline
Madeline poses the most immediate threat. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for the Big Island, meaning hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.

The storm is centered 445 miles east of Hilo and moving westward at 10 mph. Its closest approach to the Big Island should occur Wednesday night.

Some models suggest Madeline could make history with a direct strike on the Big Island, while others keep it well south, as the Central Pacific Hurricane Center explains: “[T]here are a few models that take Madeline over southern portions of the Big Island, notably GFDL and ECMWF. However other models, notably GFS, take Madeline noticeably farther south of the Big Island.”

Madeline’s maximum sustained winds are currently 120 mph, but they are forecast to slowly weaken as the storm moves over cooler waters and increasing wind shear. When it nears the Big Island, it is still predicted to be at hurricane intensity, with maximum sustained winds of 85-90 mph.

The Hurricane Center is advising the Big Island to prepare for tropical-storm-force winds and the possibility of hurricane conditions. Rainfall on the Big Island could total 5 to 10 inches, with locally higher amounts in the high terrain on the island’s windward (eastern) side.

Tropical storm conditions could also extend to Maui.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Jason Samenow