Hurricane Ignacio has been flexing his muscles and forcing Hawaiians to take notice as he marches across the Pacific toward the island paradise and surf mecca.
But despite being formerly listed as a fairly macho category 4 hurricane, Ignacio isn’t forecast to hit the Hawaiian Islands directly, the hurricane instead side-stepping Hawaii to the north and northeast, but still causing the Big Island and Maui to be under a tropical storm watch entering the week, reports AP.
At the same time, high surf, rain and powerful winds will be blasting Hawaii as Hurricane Ignacio blows by, adding more wet to an already saturated Hawaii, which has experienced an abnormally high amount of rain this August.
In fact, one Hawaiian farmer on the Big Island, Greg Colden, via Hawaiian Telecom, cited the coming Ignacio rain as being his biggest concern about Hurricane Ignacio. As a co-owner of Kona Natural Soap in Holualoa, Colden has 450 coffee trees and 1,250 cacao trees that are his primary concerns.
“I’m more worried about the rain. We’ve had over 10 inches in August, which is an anomaly for us. The trees are saturated already, and if we get some sustained winds, they could topple. That could cause quite a bit of damage.”
At the same time, Colden is keeping Hurricane Ignacio in perspective, saying, “We’ve gone through this so many times. Unless (Hurricane Ignacio) whips around the island and we take a direct hit, we should be OK.”
Current forecasts anticipate Hurricane Ignacio passing off the the northeast coast of the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday before moving on past Maui on Tuesday. Though the current Hurricane precautions for Ignacio call for tropical storm watches, forecasts say Hurricane Ignacio can still have “hurricane strength” as he blows by Hawaii.
According to Anthony Reynes, a meteorologist with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, Hurricane Ignacio was pushing sustained winds of 130 mph and said that while Ignacio wouldn’t hit Hawaii directly, “very high surf”, and strong wind gusts would be significant.
“Right now, the current track, we’re not expecting the hurricane to make a direct hit on the Big Island. Mainly the impacts are going to be very high surf and some strong wind gusts over the coastal waters.”
Hawaiian officials such as the Mayor of Maui, Alan Arakawa, and the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, have both endorsed emergency proclamations as Hawaii prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Ignacio.
In Honolulu, meanwhile, Mayor Kirk Caldwell cited a specific – and particularly unpleasant – problem on Sunday, saying at a news conference that sewage spills, and their prevention, were of particular concern should Hurricane Ignacio impact Oahu.
Previous rains have already caused a million gallons of “treated, but not yet disinfected wastewater” to gush out of the East Honolulu Wastewater Treatment plant, forcing the closure of the popular Sandy Beach and other areas on Thursday.
Ala Moana Beach Park also took a pre-Hurricane Ignacio sewage hit on Monday when 400,000 gallons of foul water overflowed into the area following heavy rains from Tropical Storm Kilo.
In the mean time, Hurricane Ignacio continues barreling across the Pacific and should be on his way away from Hawaii by Wednesday.
[Images courtesy of NOAA]