Hawaii avoids the worst of Hurricane Douglas
The surf was rough along the Hawaiian island of Maui on July 26, as Hurricane Douglas brought strong wind and heavy rain to the area.
The worst-case scenario for Hawaii did not come to fruition as the island chain avoided a direct strike from Hurricane Douglas.
On Monday morning local time, the hurricane was located northwest of Kauai and moving to the west-northwest, shifting away from the populated islands of Hawaii with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. By late Monday afternoon, Douglas had weakened to a tropical storm and is expected to entirely dissipate by midweek.
All hurricane warnings for the main Hawaiian Islands had been dropped by Monday morning.
"The center of Douglas passed to the north of the Hawaiian Islands which spared them from the worst of Douglas' conditions," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said about the hurricane's path on Sunday. "The core of the strongest winds and heaviest rain remained offshore."
For the most part, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Randy Adkins said Hawaii evaded most of the potential damage the hurricane could have caused. Wind and flooding damage was reported in isolated instances, mainly in the northern and eastern parts of Oahu and Kauai.
Sand and debris is left on Kamehameha Highway from high surf generated by Hurricane Douglas, Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Hauula, Hawaii. Hurricane Douglas came within “razor thin” distance of the Hawaiian Islands but spared the state the worst of the strong winds, storm surge and flooding officials had warned about. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
Antonia Hall, from Kihei located on western Maui, told The Associated Press that she prepared for the hurricane by bringing in her porch furniture, buying nonperishable foods and filling her bathtub with an emergency water supply -- all for the storm to miss her home.
“Maui has skirted so many hurricanes,” Hall said. “This is just kind of something we go through here.”
Duke Stevens, from Hana located on Maui’s eastern tip, said he has "seen a lot worse," in his time living in Maui, The AP reported. According to Stevens' account, the wind on the island had relented by Sunday afternoon, and a light rain that fell through the night eventually diminished.
“It’s nice that we were all prepared, but it’s ultimately good that it didn’t happen,” Lindsey Read, a resident of the Honolulu neighborhood of Kaimuki told Hawaii News Now. “We filled up our waters; we filled up all the extra tanks. We got our screens pulled back in. We fixed up our jalousies. We were ready to go.”
Parts of Kauai, such as Mount Waialeale, received over 5 inches of rain and Kilohana reached 4.96 inches. The rest of Kauai and Oahu received much less.
"The northern and eastern portion of Oahu bore the brunt of the damaging weather with strong wind gusts the main force here," Adkins said. "Heavy rainfall was isolated in nature across the island with most locations recording less than 1 inch of rain."
Douglas became the first major hurricane of the 2020 season and eventually reached Category 4 strength late Thursday. At the height of its strength, the hurricane packed maximum sustained winds of 130 mph as it rumbled through the East Pacific.
Prior to the arrival of the storm, Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation as residents prepared for the incoming severe weather.
“We have limited shelter space due to COVID-19 guidelines, so we are urging the public to make preparations now to possibly shelter in place at your home, or a family or friend’s home,” Maui Emergency Management Agency administrator Herman Andaya told Hawaii News Now.
The storm caused travel uncertainty in the days prior to its closest approach. Hawaiian Airlines announced adjustments due to the hurricane, including the cancellation of some flights scheduled for Saturday, July 25, and all transpacific and inter-island flights on Sunday, July 26. They also issued a travel waiver for all flights in and out of the islands between July 24 and 28.
On Monday, Hawaii News Now reported that Hawaii Airlines will now work toward resuming flights as normal after the threat of Douglas subsided. Hawaiian Airlines cancelled its first Monday morning roundtrip flights to Lihue, Kahului, Kona and Hilo, while Southwest Airlines had cancelled all Sunday flights but planned to resume all Monday flights. Alaska Airlines added another eastbound run to Hawaii for Monday after cancelling a Seattle flight on Sunday to get its crew.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials urged caution on Twitter even though the dangerous storm had passed.
"The storm may be over, but that doesn’t mean the danger is," FEMA stated. "Stay tuned to local news for important announcements concerning the storm area and forms of assistance, such as food, water, and shelter."
Waikiki Beach fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village is deserted as Oahu residents take shelter before the arrival of Hurricane Douglas, Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Honolulu.
Due to the location of Hawaii in the Pacific, it is very rare for hurricanes to strike the islands.
The last hurricane that caused significant impacts in Hawaii was Hurricane Lane in 2018. Although Lane did not make landfall, it produced record-breaking rainfall for the state with 58 inches total recorded on the Big Island.
Before Lane, the last hurricane to affect Hawaii was Iniki in 1992. The most destructive hurricane in the state's recorded history, Iniki caused almost $3 billion in damages.
"Hawaii is typically surrounded by cooler waters which do not support tropical activity," Douty explained. "As a result, hurricanes and tropical storms weaken and dissipate as they approach them."
Douty said this was the case with Douglas, which peaked at Category 4 intensity but weakened to Category 1 storm by the time it passed the archipelago.
"Douglas was just strong enough that it took a long time to weaken, which is why it was able to reach Hawaii as a hurricane," Douty said.
"Douglas was across a region of very warm ocean water and within light wind shear, which is favorable for tropical development. That is why it was able to strengthen so much and so rapidly," he added.
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