Hurricane Madeline weakens to category 3, but still packing punch near Hawaii

By Allen Cone and Doug G. Ware   |   Aug. 30, 2016 at 8:33 PM
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HONOLULU, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Two hurricanes steamed toward Hawaii on Tuesday, and hurricane watchers said one of them could come "dangerously close" to making landfall in a matter of hours.

Hurricane Madeline intensified into a Category 4 storm before being downgraded later to category 3 -- while Hurricane Lester swirled several hundred miles east of the Hawaiian islands.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center posted a hurricane watch for Hawaii Island, saying Madeline could come "dangerously close" to the Big Island on Wednesday.

A watch means hurricane-grade conditions are possible on Hawaii within the next 48 hours.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to travel to Oahu, where he was born, on Wednesday night before the start of the World Conservation Congress, an environmental meet that will draw 8,000 delegates.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Madeline was measured less than 345 miles east of Hilo and 545 miles east of Honolulu. Hurricane-force winds extend 30 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds go out 125 miles from the center.

A high surf warning was also issued for the east-facing shores of Maui lasting from Tuesday morning to 6 a.m. Thursday. The east shores of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai and west Maui are under a high surf advisory.

A flash flood watch also is posted for Hawaii Island on Wednesday and Thursday.

Madeline may follow a track similar to Iselle's in August 2014 -- the second tropical storm of record to hit the Big Island, according to Weather Underground.

Hurricane Lester was located about 1,400 miles east of Hilo on Tuesday and might arrive over the Hawaiian Islands over the Labor Day weekend, forecasters said.

The National Hurricane Center, which is issuing advisories on Hurricane Lester, predicts some weakening over the next 48 hours.

Lester is projected to pass into the Central Pacific Hurricane Center's jurisdiction Wednesday.

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