5.3 magnitude earthquake rocks Hawaii hours before expected hurricane

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

As residents of the Big Island of Hawaii continue to make preparations for Hurricane Flossie, a 5.3 magnitude earthquake rocked the Big Island at 7:38 p.m. local time last night. The earthquake jolted an area about 20 miles south of Hilo.

There were no immediate reports of injuries from the earthquake, as of late Monday night. However, Tom Brown, a spokesman for Hawaii County Civil Defense did report that the quake caused a small landslide.

Parts of Hawaii are already under hurricane watches, tropical storm warnings, and flash flood watches as Hurricane Flossie approaches. Public and private schools alike closed early Tuesday morning as residents and visitors were warned to stock up on food and water.

Meteorologists predict the eye of the category three storm will pass less than 100 miles from the islands, leaving parts of Hawaii exposed to strong winds and up to 15 inches of rain. However, meteorologists also express caution in saying that even a slight change in course could take the storm closer to land.

The Hawaii National Guard has been activated under the command of Governor Linda Lingle, who signed an emergency disaster proclamation ahead of the storm. Mayor Harry Kim also declared a state of emergency on Monday.

The last time a hurricane struck the state was in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki devastated the island of Kauai. Six people were killed and over $2.5 billion in damage was caused.