(Updates forecast and Iselle's position, Julio now a hurricane,
details of preparations, quotes)
By Malia Mattoch McManus
HONOLULU Aug 6 Hurricane Iselle barreled west
across the Pacific Ocean toward the Hawaiian Islands on
Wednesday, where officials warned residents and tourists of
possible flooding and mudslides and ordered schools closed.
The storm was about 700 miles (1,130 km) east of Hilo, on
the Island of Hawaii, at 7 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time on
Wednesday and heading west-northwest at 15 miles per hour (24 km
per hour) with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (137 kph),
according to the National Hurricane Center.
Iselle was expected to weaken into a tropical storm before
reaching the islands sometime on Friday morning but forecasters
said it could still bring high winds and 10-to-15-foot
(three-to-4.5-meter) surf to the tourist haven.
"The Big Island has two peaks of up to 14,000 feet. If the
hurricane makes a direct hit over the Big Island, how much of a
blocking effect that has we don't know," said Ray Tanabe, acting
director for the National Weather Service in the pacific region.
Tracking about two days behind Iselle was hurricane Julio,
which was upgraded from a tropical storm on Wednesday and could
also bring heavy surf and high winds.
Residents stocked up on basics as authorities in Honolulu
advised them to prepare a seven-day disaster supply kit.
Shoppers waited in lines at supermarkets with carts full of
bottled water, batteries and nonperishable food.
"With Hawaii's remoteness, it could be as long as a week
before a full disaster relief operation can be initiated," the
Honolulu Department of Emergency Management said in a statement.
Honolulu school teacher Gina Nakahodo said she had felt calm
until she reached the empty water aisle of her local grocery
store early on Tuesday.
"We've had so many storms that have passed us by, but with
these two back to back you begin to worry. Then all of the
sudden the aisles are empty and there's no water and it makes
your heart pound a little," Nakahodo said.
She said she talked to a couple visiting from California and
told them everything was going to be OK. "But in the back of my
mind I'm wondering, 'what's going to happen?'," she said.
The Coast Guard warned people to prepare for the onset of
heavy weather by Thursday, with the two hurricanes expected to
generate extreme sea conditions, storm surge and surf of 10 to
15 feet throughout the island chain.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch from
early Thursday to early Saturday, with Hurricane Iselle expected
to bring heavy rains to the islands.
Public schools would be closed on Thursday on the islands of
Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island, the Hawaii State
Department of Education said.
Julio was expected to arrive at the Hawaiian Islands as
early as Sunday, but officials said with Iselle on their
doorstep, that storm was still their primary focus.
(Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson, Daniel Wallis and Dan
Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt and