Hawaii’s Big Island bracing for Hurricane Madeline


Hurricane Madeline is forecast to approach the Aloha State from the east through tonight, with the latest Central Pacific Hurricane Center forecast bringing Madeline very close to the Big Island on Wednesday through early Thursday. The National Weather Service says hurricane conditions are expected on the Big Island within 36 hours.

Locals and tourists are warned that large and damaging surf is expected along east facing shores. Surf will build this afternoon, and peak at 15 to 25 feet tonight through Wednesday night. Depending on the exact track of Madeline, storm surge will range from 1 to 4 feet. The combination of storm surge and wave run-up may cause significant coastal flooding and damage to coastal properties and infrastructure, including roadways. Powerful longshore and rip currents will be present at most beaches. Large breaking waves and strong currents may impact harbor entrances and channels causing challenging boat handling.

Hawaii Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation as category 2 Hurricane Madeline as well as Hurricane Lester are tracking close to the island chain. Madeline was a category 3 hurricane earlier but the storm is losing strength. The second Pacific hurricane, Lester, is still far from Hawaii.

Based on the current track, strong damaging winds and very heavy rainfall is likely across the Big Island. Any shift in the track to the north, could result in tropical storm conditions spreading into Maui county on Thursday. In addition to the heavy rain and strong winds, large and damaging surf is expected along east facing shores of the Big Island and the island of Maui. Surf will begin to rise this afternoon, and reach dangerous levels later tonight through Wednesday night.

Depending on the exact track of Madeline, some areas could see winds as high as 60 to 80 mph with stronger gusts possible. Winds this strong would be very dangerous and airborne debris could produce widespread damage. Any loose outdoor items would become projectiles, causing possible injury. Other possible wind damage would include downed large trees and power lines, and significant roof and structure damage, especially to weaker structures.

Extensive damage to power lines and poles could result in widespread power outages that could last from several days to weeks.

A flash flood watch is in effect. Deep tropical moisture associated with the Madeline will begin to impact the Big Island Wednesday morning, bringing the threat of heavy rainfall and flooding through late Thursday. Total rain accumulations of 5 to 10 inches are possible, with isolated maximum amounts near 15 inches, especially over windward portions of the Big Island. This rainfall may lead to dangerous flash floods and mudslides. Stay tuned to radio and TV news reports for updates.