Hawaii is about to experience two very rare, back-to-back storms.

The National Weather Service Central Pacific Hurricane Center (NWSCPH) is monitoring two large storms as they approach the Hawaiian islands. Hurricane Iselle is expected to reach Hawaii Island on Thursday afternoon and continue along the island chain through the weekend, and tropical storm Julio is expected to follow along the same path two or three days behind.

It’s being called an extremely rare and unprecedented event. The Weather Channel’s lead meteorologist Kevin Roth wrote that “In 75 years of reliable data you only have one case where [tropical storms] were even 10 days apart,” referring to a time in 1982 when two weaker tropical storms and depressions hit Hawaii.

Iselle is classified as a category 2 hurricane right now but is expected to weaken into a tropical storm due to cooler waters and increased wind shear around the islands.

Below, everything we know about these rare tropical storms.

Where are they headed?
Iselle is currently a little less than 970 miles away from main Hawaiian islands, moving westward in the tradewind flow towards Hawaii at 13 mph. Iselle’s center is expected to cross Hawaii’s Big Island Thursday night and continue on a trajectory south of (but still affecting) the other main islands, including Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Kauai.

Tropical storm Julio, which is trailing Iselle and was 905 miles east of Hilo on the Big Island as of Tuesday evening, is expected to become a hurricane by Wednesday.

How strong are they and what will happen?
Iselle is predicted to remain a hurricane through Wednesday before weakening into a tropical storm, which could have wind speeds between 39 and 73 mph. Iselle is also predicted to have winds in the 45-55 mph range, with gusts as strong as 65 mph or more, especially on mountain ridges.

Hawaii’s Big Island, where the storms are expected to hit first, was under a tropical storm watch beginning Tuesday evening, which means “tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area within 48 hours.” Because of the warmer water outside the Big Island, Iselle’s speed, which was at 13 mph on Tuesday and is expected to increase, is too fast for the warmth to strengthen Iselle back into a hurricane, Lau said in a press conference.

A flash flood watch is issued for all islands starting at 4 a.m., Thursday, through 6 a.m., Friday. Otherwise, there are no other watches or warnings related to Iselle, but that could change suddenly and with little notice.

Main threats include heavy rains with area flash flooding and coastal inundations through Friday, with tropical storm-force winds: 45 to 55 mph and gusts of up to 65 mph.

What are Hawaii residents doing now?
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, NWSCPH, which is based in Honolulu, has taken over forecast responsibility for Iselle and Julio from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

All public schools on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai and Lanai will close on Thursday.

Drivers are beginning to line up at area gas stations, as well as hit stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart for comestibles and toiletries. Things they’re buying include Spam, toilet paper, bottled water, baby supplies, and rice.

Hawaiian Airlines will waive reservation change fees and differences in fares for any customer changing travel plans on August 7 or 8 due to Iselle and Julio, effective immediately. The change must be done by Hawaiian Airlines personnel prior to the departure time of your original flight. There’s some fine print, so click here for more information.

We will update this story as the storms develop.

from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/V0CsMC