Madeline weakens to Category 1 but still headed for Big Island

Madeline weakens to Category 1 but still headed for Big Island

HONOLULU, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Hurricane Madeline weakened to a Category 1 hurricane but is still headed toward the Big Island with a hurricane warning issued, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

Madeline is forecast to hit the island late Wednesday and into Thursday morning, while Hurricane Lester is predicted to hit the entire islands this weekend.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive in Oahu on Wednesday afternoon. “At this point, based on the projected track of the storm, we do not anticipate it having any impact on the president’s itinerary,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing Tuesday. But if that changes, we’ll of course keep you posted.

Madeline, about 200 miles east of Hilo and 410 miles south-southeast of Honolulu, was moving west at 12 mph, according to Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Its sustained winds dropped to 90 mph as hurricane-force winds extended out to 25 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds were up to 12 miles outward.

A hurricane warning and flash flood watch were issued for Hawaii Island, and a tropical storm watch was posted for Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.

A warning means hurricane conditions are imminent in the area and a watch means they are possible within 24 to 36 hours.

The hurricane center projects the storm to graze South Point on the Big Island, but a direct hit is possible.

Weather Underground forecasters predict up to 15 inches of rain in some parts of the Big Island and up to 4 inches in Maui, and note the potential for flooding and landslides.

“On the Big Island, some winds could be strong enough to produce considerable damage to trees,” forecasters said.

If it makes landfall, Madeline would be the Big Island’s first hurricane on record going back to 1949, according to Weather Underground.

Lester was 1,160 miles east of Hilo and moving west at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The center predicts the storm will skirt just north and within striking distance of the entire chain.

The storm is expected to enter the Central Pacific on Wednesday and weaken after that. But forecasters still believe it will be a hurricane when it approaches the islands.