Given that the entirety of Maui County is currently under a Hurricane Watch, there are tons of closures today related to the impending arrival of Hurricane Lester.
“A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area,” states the most recent advisory issued by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. “In this case, conditions are possible in the next 18 to 36 hours.”
Though Lester is “gradually weakening” and is generally headed towards the west-northwest, it remains a powerful storm. “Maximum sustained winds are near 110 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts,” states this morning’s 5am CPHC advisory on the storm. “Gradual weakening is forecast over the next couple of days. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km).”
What’s more, “Hurricane conditions are possible over Maui County late tonight and Saturday,” states the advisory. These conditions include high winds, large swell and heavy rain.
Here’s a list of what we could pull together on closures today:
• The Wailuku First Friday town party has been cancelled.
• All public schools in Maui County will close at noon today. For public charter school information, go to Chartercommission.hawaii.gov. All University of Hawaii campuses and facilities in the county will also close at noon (and will remain closed tomorrow).
• All courts will close at noon today.
• The Department of Water Supply Cashier’s Window in the County Building will close at 11am.
“[T]the probability that Maui County will experience tropical storm-force winds is significantly higher with Hurricane Lester than it was with Madeline,” said Maui County Emergency Management Office Anna Foust in a county news release. “We are asking everyone to take this storm seriously, and to stay off the roads after about 9 p.m. Friday when winds may begin picking up. Now is the time to finish getting your emergency supplies together, and be prepared to shelter in-place for up to 24 hours as Lester passes through.”
Emergency shelters will open at 5pm. The county will list their locations later today (go to Mauicounty.gov for more up-to-date info on this).
Satellite image of Hurricane Lester courtesy Central Pacific Hurricane Center