UK & World News
Hawaii Rattled by Quake And Twin Hurricanes
Hawaiians, already bracing for their first direct hurricane hit in more than two decades, were rattled by an earthquake on Thursday morning.
The 4.5-magnitude tremblor struck as state officials shut down schools and warned islanders to brace for two storms heading west across the Pacific Ocean.
There were no reports of damage after the quake, which struck the north tip of the island, but the twin hurricanes have placed the entire state on flash flood watch.
Hurricane Iselle is due to arrive on the Big Island on Thursday evening, bringing heavy rains and winds gusting up to 85mph (135kph).
Hurricane Julio, meanwhile, swirled closely behind packing 105mph winds. It strengthened on Thursday to a category two storm.
Forecasters expect Julio to pass north of the Big Island some time this weekend, but it remains too far away to precisely predict its path and strength.
Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, who has declared a state of emergency, said at a news conference on Thursday his state was ready for the hurricanes.
Residents have been warned of the potential for flash floods, mudslides and power cuts.
Mike Cantin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the Big Island's terrain would help lessen the hurricanes' impact.
"The volcanoes on the Big Island will do a number on the system," he said.
Residents nevertheless stocked up on basics, waiting in lines at supermarkets with carts full of bottled water, batteries and non-perishable food.
Others tried to get in some last-minute beach time before the rain.
Tourist Vlad Stamate, visiting from California, said the situation was "a little bit scary".
The last time Hawaii was hit with a tropical storm or hurricane was in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki killed six people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes in Kauai.
It has been a quiet hurricane season off the US and forecasters say there will be fewer storms in the Atlantic this year due to atmospheric and oceanic conditions.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does, however, still expect between three and six hurricanes between now and mid-October.