First tropical storm in 22 years to hit Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — This is what Associated Press reporters on the scene are learning as the first tropical storm in 22 years hits Hawaii:

11:31 p.m. HST

Maui County officials say about 2,700 customers lost power in parts of Pukalani, an inland town roughly 10 miles from Maui's main airport. Power was restored for another 120 customers who lost electricity because of wind debris hitting power lines.

11:05 p.m. HST

National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Brenchley says Tropical Storm Iselle is about 30 miles from hitting Hawaii's Big Island, traveling about 10 mph. The storm's center is expected to hit south of Hilo.

10:50 p.m. HST

The National Weather Service downgrades Iselle from a hurricane to a tropical storm, saying the system has sustained winds of 70 mph as its eye approaches the Big Island about 50 miles east of Hilo.

9:45 p.m. HST

National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Lau says Hurricane Iselle is about 55 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, traveling toward the Big Island at 15 mph and slowing down.

9:15 p.m. HST

The Polynesian Cultural Center, a popular tourist attraction near Oahu's north shore, announces it will be closed Friday because of the storm.

9:05 p.m. HST

On Maui, power to a water treatment plant went out, prompting county officials to ask Kula residents in the middle of the island to conserve water.

8:20 p.m. HST

A geothermal plant on the Big Island released an unknown amount of steam containing hydrogen sulfide, a smelly, poisonous compound. Crews were working to control the release and monitor the emissions, while nearby residents were urged to evacuate if they experience discomfort, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi's office said.

8:14 p.m. HST

Oahu plans to run shuttle service to evacuation centers from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m., Honolulu's Department of Emergency Management said.

6:49 p.m. HST

Gov. Neil Abercrombie says President Barack Obama has been briefed on Hurricane Iselle, according to Abercrombie's official Twitter account.

5:57 p.m. HST

Hurricane Julio has strengthened into a Category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. The National Hurricane Center said Thursday evening it expects the storm to slowly weaken by Friday night.

Julio is more than 1,000 miles behind Hurricane Iselle, which is expected to make landfall on the Big Island overnight.

5:17 p.m. HST

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials say power is out in two communities on the Big Island, including Waimea, a town of about 9,200 people near the island's north shore, and Puna, a district scattered with residents south of Hilo.

An evacuation shelter in Pahoa with at least 140 evacuees also lost power. Electrical crews are working to restore power, but there's no estimate of when it would come back online.

4:15 p.m. HST

Passengers at the Honolulu International Airport spilled out to the curb Thursday, and lines wrapped around the TSA screening area as people tried to leave before the storm hit.

After high winds hit Maui, California couple Rudy Cruz and Ashley Dochnahl left the island earlier than planned, getting to Oahu but failing to secure a flight back home.

"We were trying to beat it, but we now will have to ride it out," Cruz said.

4:15 p.m. HST

The Hawaii National Guard sent the bulk of its aircraft to bases on the West Coast on Thursday morning so they wouldn't be damaged by the storm. Lt. Col. Charles Anthony says tankers can bring back people and supplies to deal with damage if needed.

3:44 p.m. HST

In a live interview on KHON-TV, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi says there are no major injuries or damage yet on the Big Island from the first bits of wind and rain from the outer edges of the storm.

3:44 p.m. HST

Asked at a news conference whether the state would be able to recover from Hurricane Iselle and respond to Hurricane Julio at the same time, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said: "We can walk and chew gum at the same time."

3:38 p.m. HST

American Red Cross Hawaii Chapter CEO Coralie Matayoshi says people are flowing into shelters on the Big Island.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense says one is already at capacity. Thirty-nine people are at the Hilo High School shelter, 135 at Keaau High School and 146 people at Pahoa High and Intermediate School.

3:35 p.m. HST

Denise Laitinen on the Big Island says she has boarded up her windows, stocked up on food and water, and is ready for the storms.

"It's getting more windy, and it's raining pretty good," she said. "I feel good about being prepared for anything these storms bring us."

3:30 p.m. HST

Nearly 30 flights from several airlines, including Delta, United, US Airways, American Air China and WestJet, were canceled Thursday, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said.

2:34 p.m. HST

The National Weather Service in Honolulu says Iselle is expected hit Big Island as high end tropical storm or low end hurricane. A hurricane has sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. Iselle is 150 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii. It is moving to west-northwest at 17 mph.

2:20 p.m. HST

American Airlines and US Airways have canceled all flights leaving or going to the Big Island and Maui after 6 p.m. HST Thursday. They expect flights to resume at noon HST Friday.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority says United Airlines also canceled flights, but the carrier couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

2:04 p.m. HST

State courthouses and judiciary offices on Oahu and Kauai will be closed Friday. Big Island and Maui County courthouses closed today at noon and will remain closed Friday.

The U.S. District Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Hawaii will be closed on Friday. Depending on severity of storms, court calendars for Monday may change with little notice.

1:21 p.m. HST

Hawaiian Airlines says interisland flights are canceled for Thursday evening in Hilo, Kona and Maui. The airline moved its Maui-Los Angeles flight up by nearly five hours. Flight No. 56 originally scheduled to depart Kahului, Maui at 9:40 p.m. will now depart at 5 p.m. and connect in Honolulu before continuing on to Los Angeles at 9 p.m.

1:05 p.m. HST

A sports radio show from the Big Island that is broadcast statewide is spending most of its show on storm coverage, with its host saying sports can take a back seat "because, quite frankly, it's just not the most important thing."

12:32 p.m. HST

The U.S. Coast Guard is closing ports for Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island. All cargo operations at the ports will be secured by 6 p.m. Thursday.

11:46 a.m. HST

About 40 to 50 people lined up outside Menehune Water Co. just outside Honolulu to buy bottled water. Stan Nuuhiwa, who lives near Waikiki, waited two-and-a-half hours because there's no water left to buy in town. He loaded about five cases of bottled water and a five-gallon barrel of water into his truck.

11:09 a.m. HST

Officials at various observatories are securing the 13 telescopes on Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea Observatories Support Services administrative manager Gwen Biggert says workers are removing hazards and securing loose items nearby. She says it's starting to get gusty on the summit.

10:47 a.m. HST

Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection director Bruce Kim is reminding retailers that price gouging is a violation of state law. He says the price of commodities was frozen when the governor declared a state of emergency. He says evidence of price gouging will be investigated and prosecuted.

10:33 a.m. HST

Former National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield says hurricanes in Hawaii are such a rare event it makes it a challenge for the people who live there and aren't used to it, sort of like the Northeast getting hit by Sandy in 2012. The good news, he said, is that the hurricanes are coming from the east where storms are weaker and the water cooler.

9:55 a.m. HST

Gov. Neil Abercrombie at a press conference Thursday stressed: "We are fully prepared today as it's possible for us to be, institutionally."

9:38 a.m. HST

State Attorney General David Louie said the primary elections on Saturday will go forward as planned. Early voting on the Big Island will end at 1 p.m. Thursday.

All state offices will be closed Friday. Public schools on Oahu and Kauai will be closed Friday. Officials have already announced that schools on the Big Island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai would be closed Thursday and Friday.

9:05 a.m. HST

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has tweeted that the city is opening emergency shelters Thursday night and city bus service on Friday is canceled.

8:48 a.m. HST

The American Red Cross is pleading for the return of its only emergency truck on the Big Island. Hawaii chapter CEO Coralie Matayoshi says the white Ford F-150 truck bearing Red Cross markings was stolen in Hilo late Wednesday. The organization will have to borrow or rent a truck as Hurricane Iselle approaches the island.

8:05 a.m. HST

At the White House, President Barack Obama was briefed by his homeland security adviser on preparations for the storms that are threatening his birthplace. Spokesman Josh Earnest said administration officials will remain in close contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies that are that are preparing to help with response and recovery efforts as the storms near.

7:20 a.m. HST

The U.S. Geological Survey reports a magnitude 4.5 earthquake has rattled Hawaii's Big Island. There were no immediate reports of damage.

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