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Hurricanes Iselle and Julio heading toward Hawaii

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Iselle is 690 miles off Hawaii but is expected to generate dangerous swells later Wednesday
Julio is 1,645 miles out from Hilo but could be downgraded to a tropical storm as it gets closer

Two hurricanes, Iselle and Julio, continued toward Hawaii on Wednesday as officials announced school closures and warned visitors and residents to prepare for possible heavy rains, strong winds, high surf and flash flooding.

Hurricane Iselle is expected to hit the Big Island on Thursday, prompting state officials to close public schools there and on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

Dangerous swells generated by Iselle are expected later Wednesday. The hurricane was last reported to be 690 miles southeast of Hilo, according to the National Weather Service, which currently estimates sustained winds of below 40 mph, although high winds could result from even the smallest change in the storm's path.

If Iselle's track doesn't change, it could affect other islands, including Maui, Oahu and Kauai, late Thursday and early Friday.

Iselle has weakened since Monday, dropping from a Category 4 storm to a Category 1, according to Norman Hui, a meteorologist at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Officials have issued a flash-flood watch and a hurricane warning, meaning residents should be prepared to evacuate if necessary and take precautions such as securing loose objects that could be tossed about by strong winds, Hui said.

Looming in Iselle's tracks is Julio, which grew from a tropical storm to a hurricane late Tuesday.

Julio was last reported to be 1,645 miles from Hilo and heading toward the Big Island at about 17 mph, Hui said. It is expected to be downgraded back to tropical-storm status by the time it hits the island, he said.

Hawaii hasn't been hit hard by a hurricane since 1992, when Hurricane Iniki pummeled the island of Kauai, killing six people.

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