HI-EMA: Be ready for Olivia

HONOLULU — As Hurricane Olivia approaches Hawaii from the east — the fourth in a line of storms that have moved through the Central Pacific in recent weeks — the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) is reminding residents not to be complacent, but to prepare for what could be a major natural disaster affecting the entire state.

“Two things that concern us at a time like this are emergency fatigue and the public underestimating the threat,” said HI-EMA Administrator Tom Travis. “Because Lane wasn’t a direct hit, and Miriam and Norman bypassed the islands, people may start to feel like we’re safe. The warnings start to mean less. But let’s be clear; in each of those cases, we were lucky. Don’t plan on being lucky. Plan on being prepared.”

A tropical storm watch was issued Sunday for Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island. Residents on Kauai and Niihau were urged to monitor the progress of Olivia.

“We also want the public to remember that although Olivia has weakened somewhat and is forecast to hit as a tropical storm, it still presents a real and significant danger to life and property,” Travis said. “Don’t be fooled by jargon. We encourage everyone to prepare appropriately and immediately.”

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, Olivia was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was moving west at 12 mph.

“Because of the warm waters surrounding the islands this year, we may continue to see tropical storms and hurricanes maintain more strength as they approach Hawaii not only from the south, but also the east,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski at accuweather.com.

Norman took a more traditional curved path well northeast of the islands, AccuWeather reported.

Olivia, on the other hand, will be in a somewhat different steering pattern. “An area of high pressure is building westward and is likely to help steer or push Olivia significantly farther to the west, when compared to Norman,” Kottlowski said.

Current forecasts have Olivia’s effects being felt by the islands beginning Tuesday afternoon. However, conditions may change rapidly, and everyone is encouraged to stay aware of latest developments via local television stations, county emergency management offices, and emergency radio stations and NOAA weather radio channels, as well as HI-EMA’s Twitter account @Hawaii_EMA, Facebook page facebook.com/HawaiiEMA and official website at ready.hawaii.gov.

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