Hawaiian islands prepare for Hurricane Lester

HONOLULU, Sept. 2 (UPI) — Hurricane Lester weakened slightly as it approached Hawaii early Friday but registered as a Category 3 storm with sustained winds up to 115 mph.

The storm, moving about 14 mph, isn’t expected to make landfall but will still bring winds, rain and a possible storm surge through the weekend. It is expected to weaken further as it moves across waters in the path of Tropical Storm Madeline, which is slowly falling apart as it moves into the colder waters of the Pacific Ocean.

If Hurricane Lester veers to the south, it could have a significant impact. Residents of the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe are shoring up homes and businesses in the event of a direct hit. Residents and visitors are being warned to keep prepared and be ready to evacuate if needed.

“Although forecast model guidance has been stable for the past couple of days, and the official forecast keeps the center of Lester offshore of the islands, a small deviation from the official forecast track could bring profound impacts to Hawaii,” forecasters said.

Meteorologists said the Big Island and Maui County will likely see the biggest impacts. With the ground already saturated from Tropical Storm Madeline, rain from Hurricane Lester could cause severe flooding. The surf is expected to peak this weekend with 15- to 25-foot waves.

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