* Iselle weakens to tropical storm
* Hundreds still in shelters; thousands without power
* Stronger Julio heads toward islands
(Recasts, adds power outages, port reopenings, election
By Ken Wills
KAPAAU, Hawaii, Aug 8 As Tropical Storm Iselle
pushed past Hawaii late on Friday, thousands of residents raced
to clear debris and restore power before another, more powerful
hurricane threatened to drench the islands again within days.
Iselle had weakened into a tropical storm before reaching
Hawaii and officials said it was blunted to some extent by the
archipelago's mountainous Big Island, though high winds and
heavy rain still lashed smaller islands in the chain.
Residents and officials worked to clean up fallen trees that
had downed powerlines and turned their attention toward
Saturday's primary election, which the storm had threatened to
interrupt. The National Weather Service lifted its tropical
storm warning for all of Hawaii late Friday.
"I think we've come through in great fashion," Governor Neil
Abercrombie told an evening news conference, a nod to the fact
that the storm's did much less damage than had been feared.
Officials, however, warned residents not to become
complacent given the extent of the disruption and the
uncertainty over the pathway of the bigger storm hurtling toward
"Next on tap is Hurricane Julio, which still is packing
winds of about 100 mph (161 kph)," said National Weather Service
meteorologist Mike Cantin. "Right now our guidance is indicating
it's going to go north (of the state), but that can change and
folks need to keep on guard."
State officials also gave the all-clear for a Democratic
primary election to proceed as scheduled on Saturday. All but
two polling stations on the hardest-hit east coast of the Big
Island would be open, they said.
After Iselle passed, the U.S. Coast Guard said it had
reopened all of its ports in the state except one on Molokai,
which would be evaluated early on Saturday.
As Iselle passed over the Big Island with winds of up to 50
mph (80 kph) and pummeled eastern areas from Puna to Hilo with
heavy rains, some 2,000 people had hunkered down in evacuation
shelters across the state. Later in the day, that figure was
reduced to about 900 people as many evacuees returned to their
homes, said an American Red Cross spokeswoman.
At one point, 23,000 people were left without power on the
Big Island and Maui, and some 15,000 customers on the Big Island
headed into a second night without power.
"The air is thick with wood smoke since the power is still
out," said Malia Baron, who was visiting the Volcano area of the
Big Island. "It's been quite the adventure, but we're ready to
head home to prep for the next storm."
Farmers on the largely rural Big Island were checking crops
and fruit and macadamia nut trees for damage. Ka'u Coffee Mill,
a grower, said it closed on Friday as farmers assessed damage to
fields from flooding.
Other areas escaped relatively unscathed as the storm was
split by the island's volcanic peaks.
"We took precautions to make sure things didn't blow away
and to minimize damage if we in fact got high winds - but we
didn't," said Bruce Corker, owner of Rancho Aloha coffee farm in
Holualoa, in the Kona region.
There were no reports of major injuries from Iselle, a
public relations boon to a state economy that depends heavily on
tourism. Some 95,000 tourists were visiting at the time Iselle
Emergency officials found the body of a man in his 50s or
60s in the ocean near Honolulu's Ala Moana Beach Park at about 5
p.m. local time, but it was not immediately clear whether his
death was weather-related, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser
'NOW THERE'S JULIO'
Julio, which was downgraded to a Category 2 storm on Friday,
was churning toward Hawaii at about 16 mph (26 kph), carrying
maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph), and was expected
to affect the islands as early as Sunday.
It was 680 miles (1,095 km) east of Hilo and 870 miles
(1,405 km) east of Honolulu, according to the National Weather
"It's raining hard here, but I guess I can expect that the
worst of Iselle is over. Now there's Julio to worry about," said
Pepeekeo resident Rae Miyashiro, who experienced power outages
Forecasts showed Julio weakening still further as it nears
Hawaii, likely tracking about 150 miles (240 km) north of the
archipelago early on Sunday at the earliest, National Weather
Service meteorologist Anthony Reynes said.
But even if the storm veers away from the Hawaiian Islands,
forecasters said, it could still bring high winds and
considerable amounts of rain.
"At the very least it will have a significant impact on surf
on north- and east-facing shores - waves could be between 10 and
15 feet (3 to 4.5 metres) or even higher," Reynes said.
(Additional reporting by Malia Mattoch McManus in Honolulu, Dan
Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Dan
Whitcomb and Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Alison Williams/Ruth