Storm following Iniki path

LIHUE — A tropical depression south of Hawaii is likely to develop into a hurricane.

And as of now, it is following a similar path as Iniki, which struck Kauai in 1992.

According to the National Weather Service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center, a tropical disturbance several hundred miles southeast of the Big Island has been upgraded to a tropical depression that is expected to steadily strengthen over the next few days as it moves over very warm waters and enters an area of weaker wind shear.

Tom Evans, acting director of the Pacific Hurricane Center, stressed that it is too early to say with certainty which direction the cyclone will take at this point, but in terms of force, it will likely become a tropical storm by midday today and, “we are expecting it to get to hurricane strength in the next 48 hours.”

“It’s going to remain over warm water, and the wind shear will remain weak,” Evans said.

If the cyclone reaches tropical storm strength, it will be given the name Kilo.

Evans said that the cyclone is following a “similar type of track” to Iniki, which approached Kauai from the south. Recent storms have approached from the east and missed Kauai by going north of the island.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, it was located about 830 miles south-southeast of Honolulu.

“To get a direct impact from the south or southwest is a bad position for Kauai,” he said, urging residents and visitors to stay informed.

Padraic Gallagher, director of disaster services for the American Red Cross, Kauai, urged the public to start reviewing their family disaster plan, with the anticipation that something could happen. He added that the American Red Cross is looking at putting volunteers on standby notice.

The No. 1 thing to do to prepare is to stock up on food and water and know where your family is, Gallagher said. He said it’s also important to know where the shelters are located if shelter is needed, and to have vehicles gassed up. He suggested having a stockpiled supply of batteries for flashlights and enough medicine to last at least seven days.

A cyclone is upgraded from a tropical depression to a tropical storm once it has sustain winds of 39 mph, and it is designated a hurricane when sustained winds hit 74 mph.

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