Hurricane Douglas is bearing down on Hawaii, packing torrential rains and 90mph winds as it churns just east of the islands, forecasters warn.
Residents are being urged to prepare for the worst with the ‘rare’ storm expected to make landfall or pass close from Maui to Kauai on Sunday evening, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Up to 15 inches of rain are expected, according to reports.
Video showed sirens blaring, palm trees swaying and white caps crashing against the shores earlier in the day on Maui – home of Hawaii’s highest peak, volcanic Haleakala.
While in its latest update, the hurricane centre has said Douglas has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, moving west-northwest at 16 mph about 90 miles east of Kahului.
Storms of this magnitude are rare for Hawaii, with only five hurricanes and tropical storms causing major damage on the remote string of islands since 1950, according to researchers at the University of Hawaii.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino told residents to put food in coolers and to stay indoors.
“Pray that this impact will be as minimal as possible and be prepared for the worst – and we hope for the best,” Victorino said in comments aired by KHON2 News, a local Fox affiliate.
Hurricane conditions, including several inches of rain, were forecast for during the day in Maui County and on Oahu Island and on Kauai and Niihau at night.
The Hawaiian islands will experience large swells on Monday, producing life-threatening and potentially destructive surf along shores, the hurricane centre said.
The storm surge will lift water levels as much as three feet near the storm’s centre, it added.
Hawaii has only a fraction of the number of tourists it would normally have at this time of year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Douglas weakened on Saturday to a Category 1 hurricane as it approached Hawaii, but people have been warned against complacency.
State health department officials contacted all of the 625 people who are currently in coronavirus isolation or quarantine – with all indicating they would not be attempting to seek refuge at hurricane shelters.