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Intensifying Hurricanes Close in on Hawaii and Johnston Atoll With AM-Caribbean-Cindy

August 16, 1993

HONOLULU (AP) _ A hurricane warning was posted for part of Hawaii as Hurricane Fernanda intensified and changed course Sunday, putting it on a path that would take it 100 to 200 miles north of the islands.

″All coastal areas on the east side of the island are on alert for possible evacuation,″ said Harry Kim, civil defense adminstrator for the state’s Hawaii Island.

The southernmost Hawaii Island was placed under a hurricane warning at 5 p.m. HST (11 p.m. EDT), while the rest of the state - including Oahu, the most populous - remained under a less severe hurricane watch.

Two dozen youngsters with a baseball team were evacuated as a precaution Saturday night from a park at Punaluu, near the southern tip of Hawaii Island, Kim said.

Meanwhile, the approach of Hurricane Keoni toward Johnston Atoll prompted the evacuation of 900 people at the Army’s chemical weapons facility 700 miles south of Hawaii.

At 5 p.m. HST, Fernanda was 370 miles east of Hilo on the island of Hawaii, moving west-northwest at 12 mph with sustained winds of 105 mph and gusts to 125 mph, the National Weather Service said. Gale-force winds of 39 to 54 mph extended for 200 miles.

″It’s slightly stronger than it was yesterday,″ said Glenn Trapp, director of the hurricane center here. ″We don’t expect it to intensify any more and it should stay pretty much the same for the next 24 hours and then start to weaken.″

The storm had shifted slightly to the north from it’s earlier due west course, which would see it pass 100 to 200 miles to the north of the Hawaiian Islands chain, Trapp said.

Nevertheless, a hurricane watch was issued for the state because winds of 74 mph or greater were possible, the weather service said. Fifteen to 25-foot surf was expected along eastern shorelines by Monday.

In 1992, Hurricane Iniki slammed into the Hawaiian island of Kauai, killing five people and causing more than $1.6 billion damage.

Hurricane Keoni was expected to brush Johnston Atoll with gale-force winds as its center passed 150 miles to the west, the weather service said.

At 5 p.m. HST, the intensifying Keoni was 180 miles southeast of Johnston Atoll, moving west at 14 mph with sustained winds of 110 mph, the weather service said.

Air Force C140 transport planes and a chartered L1011 were used to evacuate 904 military and civilian personnel from Johnston Atoll on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Some 133 people, classified as essential personnel, were left behind to ride out the storm, said Army spokeswoman Marjorie Barrell.

The Army’s $500 million chemical weapons storage and incinerator facility is built to withstand hurricane-force winds, Barrell said.

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