Hurricane Watches, Warnings Issued As Storms Take Aim At Florida And Hawaii

A satellite image shows Hurricane Madeline approaching Hawaii from the east on Monday evening.

NOAA

Residents of Hawaii and Florida braced for tropical cyclones Tuesday as forecasters issued hurricane warnings and watches for two separate storms bearing down on the states.

Forecasters at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Hurricane Madeline, churning westward through the Pacific, would pass “dangerously close” on Wednesday to Hawaii's Big Island, the southernmost island in the archipelago. While a second, stronger hurricane, Lester, is also expected to approach the state by Labor Day weekend.

In Florida, a hurricane watch was posted Tuesday over a tropical depression brewing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The system, which could be named Hermine if it strengthens into a tropical storm, is forecast to make landfall along Florida;s Gulf Coast later this week between Tampa and Panama City.

A map shows the forecast track for Hurricane Madeline in the Pacific.

Via NOAA

Both states are preparing for heavy rain, powerful winds, big waves, coastal flooding, and erosion.

Forecasters expect the depression to make landfall in Florida as a tropical storm as early as Thursday. More than 1,000 sandbags were handed out on Tuesday to protect local businesses and residents in low-lying areas, CBS News reported. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn urged residents to use common sense and not drive into standing water.

Federal regulators said offshore workers were evacuated from at least nine oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico that were in the path of storm. Some of the rigs were also repositioned.

A map shows the forecast track for Tropical Depression 9 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Via NOAA

In the Pacific, Hurricane Madeline was a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, and forecasters said the storm would likely weaken before potentially making landfall. A tropical storm watch was also in effect for the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.

If Madeline makes landfall on the Big Island, it would be the first hurricane to strike the island since records started in 1949. The last hurricane to hit the state, Iniki, made landfall on Kauai in 1992, causing six deaths and widespread damage.

A second hurricane, Lester, is following close behind Madeline in the Pacific, and is expected to pass just north of the islands on Saturday. Still, it could bring additional heavy rains and flooding to the state.

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