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Hawaii avoids direct hit from Tropical Storm Madeline; Hurricane Lester looms

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Hawaii avoids direct hit from Tropical Storm Madeline; Hurricane Lester looms
Tropical Storm Madeline did not hit the Hawaiian islands directly. Some flooding was reported after the storm system passed near the Big Island and up to 1,000 people lost electricity on Wednesday. Image courtesy of Central Pacific Hurricane Center

HONOLULU, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Storm system Madeline missed making a direct impact on Hawaii after being downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm but the Big Island is bracing for Hurricane Lester over the weekend.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Madeline was last registered to be 150 miles south-southwest of Hawaii with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. A tropical storm warning is in effect until at least Thursday afternoon for Hawaii County and Maui County, including the Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe islands.

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Winds from Tropical Storm Madeline were expected to be strongest over mountains and where winds blow downslope from higher terrain, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center warns. Large surf swells peaked overnight. Overall, the storm system is expected to produce up to 10 inches of rain in Hawaii County, with 15 inches of rain in isolated areas. The islands of Maui County will see up to 3 inches of rain.

"This rainfall may lead to dangerous flash floods and mudslides," the hurricane center said in a statement.

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Some flooding was reported after Tropical Storm Madeline passed near the Big Island and up to 1,000 people lost electricity on Wednesday. The storm system is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression by Friday.

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Meanwhile, Hurricane Lester -- about 830 miles east of the Hawaiian town of Hilo and generating maximum sustained winds of 110 mph -- is moving west toward the Hawaiian islands. Hurricane Lester is expected to gradually change to a west northwest motion before weakening late Friday.

Hurricane force winds will extend up to 35 miles away from the center of the storm and tropical storm force winds will extend up to 105 miles. No coastal watches or warnings are in effect, but the Central Pacific Hurricane Center has urged residents to monitor the progress of the storm system.

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"Surf ... swells generated by Lester will start to build over east facing shores Thursday and Friday. Surf will peak this weekend, becoming very large and damaging along east facing shores," the hurricane center said.

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