How tropical weather shook up an island paradise

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm •  Published: August 10, 2014
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HONOLULU (AP) — Sunshine and blue skies returned to parts of Hawaii on Sunday after days of heavy rain and gusting winds brought by Tropical Storm Iselle, the first to make landfall in more than two decades. A second storm in the Pacific, Hurricane Julio, had tourists and residents on edge but is moving away from the islands and no longer posing a threat.

Iselle, initially a hurricane, left the most traveled and populated areas of the state largely unscathed, but toppled trees and power lines when it hit the Big Island early Friday. Thousands of people there remained without power or any idea when it would be restored.

Here is a summary of how the storms affected Hawaii:

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INITIAL CONCERNS:

For the first time in 22 years, a hurricane was on course to hit Hawaii, launching urgent preparations earlier this week. But the worries weren't just Hurricane Iselle. A second and stronger hurricane, Julio, also had the potential trajectory to hit the islands.

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PREPARATIONS:

With two hurricanes looming, airlines canceled flights to and from the mainland and between islands. Businesses, schools and government offices closed, boarding up windows and placing sandbags in preparation for winds and flooding. Residents emptied grocery stores of bottled water and other supplies. People battened down their homes or flowed into emergency shelters and hoped for the best.

Transit services and tourist attractions like the memorial sites at Pearl Harbor shut down, but officials kept plans to hold Saturday's primary elections, including heated congressional and gubernatorial races.

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LANDFALL:

Iselle's center made landfall early Friday as a tropical storm, having weakened late Thursday about 50 miles offshore. It hit the Big Island first, pounding it with heavy rain, violent wind and ocean surges. The island's formidable volcanic mountains took a toll on Iselle, essentially splitting the spinning storm in half.

The weakened Iselle diverted south, its outer bands peppering Maui, Oahu and Kauai with less intense rain and wind.

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DAMAGE ON THE BIG ISLAND:

While the Big Island helped curb Iselle, it also took the brunt of the storm. About 25,000 people lost electricity. Coffee farmers navigated flooded streets to check on their crops, and residents used chain saws to break up fallen trees blocking roads.

Days later, thousands remained in the dark and were told to expect extended outages. Water, ice and other supplies were flown to the area called Puna, and roads cleared, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Sunday.

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