It is now peak hurricane season in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which this year features a meteorological first. Not one, but two tropical cyclones are barreling towards Hawaii at the same time, something that has never happened before. Simultaneously, another brews off the coast of Florida.
The two Pacific monsters, named Madeline and Lester, have – or at least, had – the potential to cause significant damage to the state of Hawaii.
Just before Madeline was about to hit Hawaii, Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation, while urging Big Island residents to take immediate steps to protect their families, employees, and property. According to ABC News, a dozen schools are to be used as emergency shelters, and public schools and universities will be closed until at least Friday. Ports and harbors will also be closed until the storms subside.
As of August 30, 11pm Hawaiian Standard Time (August 31, 10am BST), Madeline touched the side of Big Island. Earlier that day, it had sustained winds of about 193 kilometers per hour (120 miles per hour), which would make it a category 3 hurricane, but quickly lost energy and dropped down to a category 2.
By the time it impacted Hawaii, it was a less frightening category 1, and it is projected to turn into a tropical storm within the next few hours. The extent of the damage is not yet clear.
Hurricane Lester, however, is further east, and careening westwards. As of the same time, 11pm Hawaiian Standard Time (10am BST), it has sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour (140 miles per hour), which currently makes it a category 4 hurricane. Fortunately, modeling predicts that it may just miss Big Island, and by Saturday local time, it will be a mere category 1.
Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, Hurricane Gaston is churning away, although it’s still quite far from the eastern seaboard. According to the tracking maps, Hurricane Gaston is currently a category 3 hurricane. Fortunately, it is likely to die in the Atlantic Ocean – models show it is moving eastwards, and by Saturday morning it will be a lowly tropical storm.
Hurricane Gaston. NASA