Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Hawaii’s volcanoes, reaching thousands of feet into the sky, helped break Tropical Storm Iselle apart as it pummeled the Big Island with gusting winds and heavy rain.
The center of Iselle vanished from radar earlier today, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 4 a.m. local time. An hour later, forecasters reported winds has dropped to 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour from 60 mph with the storm 70 miles south-southwest of Hilo.
While Iselle has lost strength, its rain and wind still pose a threat to the islands.
“These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods as well as rock and mud slides,” the center said.
Iselle lost hurricane strength shortly before landfall on the Big Island, sparing the state its first hurricane strike since 1992. Flights were scrubbed, tourist areas shut and government offices and schools closed as the system approached. Tropical storm warnings still stretch across Hawaii, the National Weather Service in Honolulu said. More than 20,000 Hawai’i Electric Light customers were without power, the utility said.
Iselle will move off the Big Island later today and then pass south of the chain and into the Pacific, said Paul Walker, meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
To the east of Iselle, Hurricane Julio’s top winds dropped to 105 mph from 120 mph, making it a Category 2 system on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, the center said.
Julio’s current track takes the system north of the state. Walker said this also means the islands won’t be in the path of Julio’s strongest winds, which are on its north and east sides, when it passes through sometime on Aug. 10 or 11.
“It’s going to be close enough that there will be some showers,” Walker said. “The strongest winds will remain off the islands.”
--With assistance from Lynn Doan in San Francisco and Isis Almeida in London.