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How tropical weather shook up island paradise: Hawaii's preparations, damage, forecast

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HONOLULU — Sunshine and blue skies returned to parts of Hawaii on Sunday after days of heavy rain and gusting winds brought by Tropical Storm Iselle, the first to make landfall in more than two decades. A second storm in the Pacific, Hurricane Julio, had tourists and residents on edge but is moving away from the islands and no longer posing a threat.

Iselle, initially a hurricane, left the most traveled and populated areas of the state largely unscathed, but toppled trees and power lines when it hit the Big Island early Friday. Thousands of people there remained without power or any idea when it would be restored.

Here is a summary of how the storms affected Hawaii:


INITIAL CONCERNS:

For the first time in 22 years, a hurricane was on course to hit Hawaii, launching urgent preparations earlier this week. But the worries weren't just Hurricane Iselle. A second and stronger hurricane, Julio, also had the potential trajectory to hit the islands.


PREPARATIONS:

With two hurricanes looming, airlines canceled flights to and from the mainland and between islands. Businesses, schools and government offices closed, boarding up windows and placing sandbags in preparation for winds and flooding. Residents emptied grocery stores of bottled water and other supplies. People battened down their homes or flowed into emergency shelters and hoped for the best.

Transit services and tourist attractions like the memorial sites at Pearl Harbor shut down, but officials kept plans to hold Saturday's primary elections, including heated congressional and gubernatorial races.


LANDFALL:

Iselle's center made landfall early Friday as a tropical storm, having weakened late Thursday about 50 miles offshore. It hit the Big Island first, pounding it with heavy rain, violent wind and ocean surges. The island's formidable volcanic mountains took a toll on Iselle, essentially splitting the spinning storm in half.

The weakened Iselle diverted south, its outer bands peppering Maui, Oahu and Kauai with less intense rain and wind.


DAMAGE ON THE BIG ISLAND:

While the Big Island helped curb Iselle, it also took the brunt of the storm. About 25,000 people lost electricity. Coffee farmers navigated flooded streets to check on their crops, and residents used chain saws to break up fallen trees blocking roads.

PHOTO: Visitors Sharon Zappa, left, of Florida, and Vicki Stearns, of Chicago, walk along the beach in Waikiki in Honolulu on Friday, Aug, 8, 2014. Iselle came ashore early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, close behind it, strengthened and is forecasted to pass north of the islands. The two tourists said they were not concerned about the storm. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Visitors Sharon Zappa, left, of Florida, and Vicki Stearns, of Chicago, walk along the beach in Waikiki in Honolulu on Friday, Aug, 8, 2014. Iselle came ashore early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, close behind it, strengthened and is forecasted to pass north of the islands. The two tourists said they were not concerned about the storm. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Days later, thousands remained in the dark and were told to expect extended outages. Water, ice and other supplies were flown to the area called Puna, and roads cleared, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Sunday.

Robert O'Connor, who runs the Country Cottage, said Sunday that the inn lacked power and running water. He provided guests buckets to flush the toilets and said they weren't enjoying showering in the rain.

"Everybody hunkered down," he said, adding that the main roads reopened and a nearby fire station allowed people to shower there.

The 8,255 registered voters in the hard-hit area will help decide the Democratic U.S. Senate primary race after the storm closed two precincts Saturday. Voters will be mailed ballots.


DAMAGE ELSEWHERE:

On Kauai, rescuers found the body Saturday of a 19-year-old woman believed to have been swept away in a stream while hiking Friday in a closed state park.

On Oahu, there was little damage to Joseph Cambe's lei stand.

"It was not too bad," he said Saturday, days after taking down flowers ahead of Iselle. "We lost one day of business, but we can make it up by opening early and closing late."


TOURISTS:

In the popular tourist destinations of Waikiki and Pearl Harbor on Oahu, the hours after Iselle were far different than on the Big Island. While rain poured, the storm passed south of the island and did not have much of an impact. By Friday night, life was nearly back to normal. Open-air waterfront restaurants were bustling, Hawaiian bands serenaded tourists, and people were out swimming and surfing, despite the overcast skies.

"We appreciated the preparation, and that Iselle behaved," said Silvia Otto, a traveler visiting from California.


THE FORECAST:

The National Weather Service said Hurricane Julio is moving away from Hawaii. The agency downgraded Julio, which is 400 miles northeast of Honolulu, to a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest level. But the storm is affecting trade winds that usually keep the islands cool, so hot, muggy weather is expected through the first half of the week.

"We'll build back to the tropical paradise we've come to love," meteorologist John Bravender said of the second half of the week.


Associated Press writers Oskar Garcia, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and Cathy Bussewitz in Honolulu contributed to this report.

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Video:
PHOTO: Iselle is poised to become the first hurricane or tropical storm to hit Hawaii in 22 years and whose path another hurricane closely followed. One resident said they are  worried, but they will "see what happens." (Aug. 8)
Iselle is poised to become the first hurricane or tropical storm to hit Hawaii in 22 years and whose path another hurricane closely followed. One resident said they are worried, but they will "see what happens." (Aug. 8) PHOTO: The first storm in a one-two punch heading for Hawaii clamored ashore overnight Friday as weakened Tropical Storm Iselle. The storm knocked out power, caused flooding and downed trees. (Aug. 8)
The first storm in a one-two punch heading for Hawaii clamored ashore overnight Friday as weakened Tropical Storm Iselle. The storm knocked out power, caused flooding and downed trees. (Aug. 8) PHOTO: The first storm in a one-two punch bound for Hawaii clamored ashore as a weakened tropical storm. Hurricane Julio, about 750 miles east of the Big Island, was a Category 2 storm and packed maximum sustained winds of about 105 mph. (Aug. 8)
The first storm in a one-two punch bound for Hawaii clamored ashore as a weakened tropical storm. Hurricane Julio, about 750 miles east of the Big Island, was a Category 2 storm and packed maximum sustained winds of about 105 mph. (Aug. 8) PHOTO: NASA satellites show weakening Hurricane Iselle with category two hurricane Julio behind it. The first storm came ashore in Hawaii early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while strengthening Julio is set to pass north of the islands. (Aug. 8)
NASA satellites show weakening Hurricane Iselle with category two hurricane Julio behind it. The first storm came ashore in Hawaii early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while strengthening Julio is set to pass north of the islands. (Aug. 8) PHOTO: Video captured by Andrew Fujimura loud winds blowing through palm trees, white foamy waves chopping high onto shoreline shrubs and rocks. Iselle was expected to pass over the Big Island on Thursday night. (Aug. 8)
Video captured by Andrew Fujimura loud winds blowing through palm trees, white foamy waves chopping high onto shoreline shrubs and rocks. Iselle was expected to pass over the Big Island on Thursday night. (Aug. 8)
Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Winds from Tropical Storm Iselle blow palm trees near a sign warning of the closure of Kualoa Regional Park in Honolulu on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. All of the public parks on Oahu were closed. Iselle came ashore onto the Big Island early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, behind it, is forecasted to pass north of the islands. Iselle is the first tropical storm to hit the state in 22 years. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
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