Right now my parents are preparing for the worst. They live on the Big Island of Hawaii just miles from where Hurricane Flossie is scheduled to make landfall. Currently, the storm is packing 120 mph sustained winds and is on course to hit south of the Big Island Tuesday. (Not to mention the fact that a 5.3 magnitude earthquake just struck the Big Island a few hours ago.)
Forecasters are urging residents and visitors to Hawaii to be prepared for heavy rain and damaging winds. If you have a loved one vacationing in paradise right now I would urge you to try to touch base with them now before the storm hits. The Big Island is currently under a hurricane watch (meaning that it could face hurricane conditions within 36 hours) and a tropical storm warning, which means tropical storm conditions are possible in the next 24 hours. In addition, a flash flood watch was issued for the Big Island through Wednesday. Meteorologists are predicting Flossie will dump as much as 10 inches on the island.
According to my parents, all public schools, state parks and many businesses on the Big Island will be closed tomorrow as a safety precaution. That means that tourists will not be able to visit parks, forest and natural area reserves or hiking trails on the Big Island until the storm has passed. Managers at the Department of Land and Natural Resources say the anticipation of high winds, falling trees, heavy rain and flash flooding makes it too dangerous for visitors to be in these exposed areas. Also on the Big Island, the mayor has already declared a state of emergency for the county. (Basically, the declaration clears the way for state and federal officials to begin pre-disaster preparations.)
According to the National Weather Service, Flossie is considered a Category 3 hurricane. A Category 3 hurricane has sustained winds of up to 130 mph and higher gusts, according to the National Weather Service. The storm had been a stronger Category 4 hurricane earlier today and yesterday.
If your loved ones are vacationing on any of the other major Hawaiian Islands, they are by no means out of danger. Forecasters say that tropical storm force wind gusts will be felt over all of the Hawaiian Islands as Flossie passes to the south. The worst weather is predicted to impact the Big Island Tuesday afternoon and night, then move over Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai and Molokai Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The worst conditions for Oahu and Kauai should occur Wednesday. High surf advisories are posted for all east-facing beaches on all of the Hawaiian Islands due to the high surf expected to be generated as Flossie passes by.
At this point there is little anyone can do than prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
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