Dalilia Weakens to Tropical Storm; Still Heading Toward Hawaii
HONOLULU (AP) _ Hurricane Dalilia weakened to a powerful tropical storm Wednesday and continued on a track that would take it just south of Hawaii, forecasters said.
Hawaii Island residents were stocking up on batteries, canned goods and other emergency supplies as the storm approached from the southeast.
Dalilia surprised forecasters Tuesday by turning to the north, putting it on track to pass 70 miles south of Hawaii Island, southernmost in the chain, late Wednesday.
A tropical storm watch - meaning wind up to 73 mph and heavy rain were possible - remained in effect for Hawaii Island.
At 8 a.m. HST Wednesday, the hurricane was about 230 miles southeast of Hilo, on Hawaii Island, moving west-northwest at about 13 mph, the National Weather Service said. Its maximum sustained wind speed was 70 mph; a storm is classified a hurricane when that speed reaches 74 mph. Wind gusted to 85 mph.
Clarence Lee, head of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, said Dalilia was expected to weaken but remain a tropical storm for a few days.
In Naalehu, the southernmost community in the United States, many residents were buying emergency supplies.
″They’ve been buying lots of batteries and canned goods - candles and lamps too,″ said Janice Javar, a cashier at Naalehu Food Center. ″Almost everyone mentions the hurricane.″
Naalehu, with about 5,000 residents, is the closest community to Hawaii Island’s south tip.
Hawaii Island beach parks were closed for the second day as surf surged to more than 15 feet on the southeast coast.
Civil Defense officials closed several seldom-used roads along Hawaii Island’s south shore.
″The purpose is to keep campers out so when the storm hits we don’t have to go in and rescue them,″ said Neil Gyotoku, a spokesman for Hawaii County Civil Defense.
There were no immediate plans for evacuation, he said.
Although there were reports of waves washing up on coastal roads, Hilo police said no injuries or damage were reported as of late Tuesday.
The last major storm to hit Hawaii was Hurricane Iwa, which brushed the island of Oahu and roared over of Kauai with wind up to 117 mph in November 1982, causing $234 million damage.