Hawaiian-named storm hits Johnston Isle
Hurricane Ioke forces an Air Force group to take shelter on the atoll south of Hawaii
Thirteen people aboard an Air Force research vessel took shelter from Hurricane Ioke on Johnston Island yesterday, the Coast Guard reported.
The island, about 800 miles west-southwest of Honolulu, was expected to be under a hurricane warning until sometime this morning.
The National Weather Service classified Hurricane Ioke as a Category 2 storm, with sustained winds of 105 mph, yesterday evening. It was heading northwest at 9 mph.
Five crew and eight passengers took shelter at a bunker on the uninhabited island sometime yesterday, Coast Guard Petty Officer Luke Clayton said. The group was in a boat of 96 feet or smaller and decided to come ashore to a hurricane-proof bunker, rather than try to weather the storm on the boat, he said.
The Coast Guard had no communication with the group yesterday after it entered the bunker, Luke said.
The Coast Guard is sending its 190-foot buoy-tender Kukui and a 110-foot patrol boat to Johnston Island to retrieve the Air Force group in case its boat does not survive the hurricane, Luke said. The boats should arrive late tonight or early tomorrow, he said.
The Coast Guard also plans to fly a plane over Johnston Island today after the hurricane passes to look for survivors and at the condition of the boat.
JOHNSTON ISLAND is a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuge that hasn't been staffed for more than a year. It also is the site of radioactive materials that have been buried there by the military, after an extensive cleanup. The military also cleaned up the island after chemical weapons were incinerated there.
Hurricane Ioke was about 865 miles west-southwest of Honolulu yesterday afternoon and expected to reach Johnston Island about 8 p.m. Hawaii time, according to the National Weather Service.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Hector was expected to enter the central Pacific early this morning as a weak tropical depression or remnant low pressure system, the Weather Service said.
Hector was about 1,280 miles east-northeast of Honolulu yesterday afternoon, with sustained winds of 35 mph, and traveling west at 8 mph.
EFFECTS FROM Hector should begin arriving in Hawaii today in the form of moderate swells for 4 to 7 feet from the east that could hold until Saturday, according to surf forecaster Pat Caldwell's posting for the National Weather Service.
Meanwhile, several Southern Hemisphere storms could bring Oahu's south shore surf in the 3 to 5 foot range today, increasing to 7 feet tomorrow.
Surf along west facing shores is forecast for 3 to 4 feet today, while the north shore will remain 2 feet or less.
Weather forecasters also are keeping an eye on a weak disturbance about 660 miles southeast of Hilo that was moving west slowly yesterday. However, the weather service predicted it would not develop and expected no additional tropical cyclones through Thursday afternoon.