HONOLULU ― Two powerful hurricanes, one right behind the other, are headed toward the Hawaiian Islands, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a hurricane warning for Hawaii’s Big Island.
The nearest storm, Madeline, currently a Category 3 hurricane, was moving west toward the Big Island. As of 2 p.m. HST on Tuesday, the storm was about 350 miles east of Hilo and had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph.
Madeline is predicted to bring high winds, flash flooding and high surf to the island on Wednesday if it remains on its current path, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on Tuesday evening, declaring a disaster relief period from Aug. 31 to Sept. 9.
Forecasters predict Madeline will pass just south of the Big Island around 2 a.m. Thursday, according to The Associated Press. Residents are being told to expect tropical storm conditions and potential hurricane conditions.
“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the National Weather Service warning reads.
In Madeline’s wake is Hurricane Lester, which also was a Category 3 storm on course for the Hawaiian Islands. Forecasters predict Lester will weaken to a tropical storm before it reaches land, AP reports.
If either storm makes landfall at hurricane strength on the Big Island, it would be the first hurricane to hit the island in recorded history, according to Weather Underground. In records going back to 1949, tropical storms have hit the Big Island, but no hurricanes.
Hawaii News Now reports that meteorologists believe the effects of Madeline could be worse than those of Tropical Storm Iselle, which hit the Big Island in 2014. They’re warning residents to prepare accordingly.
“This looks like potentially the strongest tropical cyclone, which includes hurricanes and tropical storms, to approach very close to the coast in the past several years,” Central Pacific Hurricane Center meteorologist Chris Brenchley told Hawaii News Now.
Florida is also preparing for possible nasty weather, as an unnamed tropical depression strengthens and heads for the state’s Gulf Coast. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for parts of the state, warning of potential hurricane conditions and flooding.
In order to stay safe during a major storm, follow National Weather Service hurricane safety guidelines: Prepare a disaster supply kit, have an evacuation plan and stay updated on current storm information.
This article has been updated to include Gov. Ige’s emergency proclamation.