Volcano defense could help protect against Iselle, precautions still urged

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - All eyes are on storm Iselle not only because of the potential damage but because it would be the first time in recent history a storm this size has directly hit the Big Island and experts are curious to see what happens. We're not talking about the remnants or outer edges of a storm, but the National Weather Service says this could be the first time the eye of a storm this size made a direct hit to the Big Island.

Hawaii County's five volcanoes are considered sacred and they may also help protect against Iselle. With elevations at nearly 14,000 feet the peaks could cut into the clouds.

"It is possible that Iselle passes overhead what we'll see is a further decrease of intensity, but the degree of that decrease is very uncertain," said Jordan Gerth, National Weather Service Meteorologist.

Hurricanes need circulation in the center.  As they move they suck up energy from the ocean.  But as the storm hit the volcanoes it's kind of like a low rider car hitting a speed bump.

"That's a significant lower part of the storm that could be cut out of it temporarily as it passes over," said Gerth.

Any help the land can give against the clouds could make a difference because the trees in Hawaii may not be ready for storms Iselle or Julio.

"The Big Island is used to the trades so trees are kind of used to feeling the northeasterly wind but perhaps not strong winds out of other directions," said Gerth.

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi says don't depend on the volcano defense.  He is urging people to take precautions. High winds, surf and heavy rains are expected island wide.

"Stay focused, stay prepared, stay with family and friends, stay off the streets as much as possible," said Mayor Kenoi. "Accurate information, preparedness, the community working together, that's what will get us through the challenges that we have to face."

Because the Big Island hasn't been hit like this it is best to prepare for anything.  Residents have been buying up supplies and gasoline.

"We always cook with butane, stocking up, making sure we ready," said Matt Okuno, who was stocking up on supplies.

"With two coming one right after the other, it makes sense to be prepared," said Darlene Furness, who was filling up spare gas tanks.

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