Hawaii on Hurricane Alert; Storm Plays Wait-and-See : Weather: Forecasters warn course change could cause major problems as residents stock up. Dominican Republic also braces for winds, rain.

<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

Nearly 200 residents of Hawaii Island fled their homes Monday as Hurricane Fernanda and its 105 m.p.h. winds swirled offshore. Meanwhile, forecasters warned residents of the Dominican Republic to prepare for Tropical Storm Cindy.

A hurricane watch was in effect for all of the Hawaiian Islands. A hurricane warning for Hawaii, the southernmost island, was downgraded Monday after the hurricane drifted slightly north.

“The forecast still calls for it to stay north of the islands, but it easily could turn south,” said Tim Craig of the National Weather Service. ‘It’s more of a wait-and-see game because it’s moving so slowly.”

The weather service said Fernanda, carrying sustained winds of 105 m.p.h. with 125 m.p.h. gusts, was 300 miles east-northeast of Hilo, on Hawaii Island’s east side, and moving west-northwest at 10 m.p.h.


The location put the storm 450 miles east of Honolulu.

Authorities warned that even a slight change in course could cause major problems.

All beach parks on Hawaii Island were evacuated and closed Sunday with the posting of a hurricane warning, forecasting winds of at least 74 m.p.h., Kim said.

Nine emergency shelters were opened in anticipation of high wind and flooding, he said. About 185 people spent Sunday night in shelters as a precaution, authorities said. The island is home to about 120,000 residents.


Residents of Oahu were not expected to feel the effects of Fernanda until late Monday or early today, said Paul Takamiya, emergency information officer for Oahu civil defense.

Forty hikers were evacuated from Wailau Valley at the north end of Molokai Island. The valley is accessible only by ocean or a difficult trail that would be impassable in a storm.

The Food Fair Super Market in Hilo sold out of batteries. Bread, canned meats and matches also went quickly, grocery manager Aaron Mar said.

Residents of the island of Kauai, which was devastated by Hurricane Iniki Sept. 11, again stocked up on supplies.

“When you get punched in the face, the next time they raise their hand, you duck,” Ed Vallejos said as he filled gas cans at a service station.

Tropical Storm Cindy, born Saturday in the eastern Caribbean Sea, was a “minimal” tropical storm with sustained winds of 40 m.p.h., forecasters said.

Monday morning, the storm was about 100 miles southeast of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. It was moving west-northwest at 13 m.p.h.

Forecasters expected the storm to be dissipated by the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola, diminishing its danger to the Bahamas to the northwest.


“It’s going to be destroyed over Hispaniola, then it will take two or three days to try to regenerate,” said Bob Sheets, director of the National Hurricane Center.

Cuba’s Civil Defense Service issued a storm warning for the island’s eastern provinces Monday.

Radio Rebelde quoted Cuban weather forecasters as saying the storm was expected to pass early today north of Cuba’s eastern tip, bringing heavy rains.

The storm killed two people and left thousands homeless Saturday on the French island of Martinique before sweeping past the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Storm Threatens Islands

If Fernanda stays on its current course, it will pass 100 miles to the north of the islands, close enough to bring torrential rains, high surf, flooding and winds of 74 m.p.h.