Big Island Advised to Hunker Down As Weakened Erick Brings High Winds, Surf, Rain

Jul 29, 2019

Updated: July 31, 5:52 p.m.

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for Hawaiian offshore waters that will kick up winds and surf and produce scattered thunderstorms. Erick continued to weaken but remains a category 2 hurricane producing maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center on Wednesday. Flossie also weakened to a tropical storm, but could regain strength later in the week. 

Erick was about 480 miles southeast of Hilo as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. It is moving in a westerly direction at roughly 14 miles per hour and is projected to weaken over the next two days.

The hurricane warning covers Hawaiian offshore waters beyond 40 nautical miles, including a portion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. A tropical storm warning is also posted for waters south of the Big Island, with winds as high as 35 knots and scattered thunderstorms.

A high surf warning is up for the Big Island, where surf up to 20 feet is expected for east-facing shores through Thursday.

A flash flood warning has also been issued for the Big Island from Thursday afternoon through Saturday morning. The hurricane could bring heavy rainfall, especially impacting the east and southeast slopes of the Big Island. 

Erick is projected to slowly weaken through Friday. 

The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency issued an advisory Wednesday afternoon noting South Point Road has been closed to all but residents there. Whittington and Punaluu Beach parks were also shut down.

In Hilo, the Bayfront Parking Lot will be closed Thursday morning and Hele-On buses will pick up passengers behind the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Big Island officials urged residents to secure canopy tents and other loose items on their property by Thursday. They were further advised to stay tuned to the radio for updates.

Flossie, which had been gradually gaining force, weakened to a tropical storm as it pushes westward across the Pacific, but it could return to hurricane status by the end of the week.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Flossie was 1,775 miles east of Hilo, with maximum sustained winds that have decreased to near 65 mph. The storm is moving toward the west at about 16 mph.

The next advisory is scheduled at 11 p.m. on the Central Pacific Hurricane Center website.

The Hawai'i Emergency Management Agency has urged residents to prepare for the hurricanes now and avoid long lines at gas stations, stores and ATMs. Officials advised households to pull together a 14-day emergency kit.

"Everyone who plans ahead and prepares an emergency kit helps not only themselves, but they also help their entire community deal with a disaster,” Thomas Travis, administrator of HI-EMA, said in a statement.