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Outer edge of hurricane brings rain to Hawaii

Hurricane Iselle nears Big Island; Julio following

Staff members of the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua, Hawaii, took precautions on Thursday.

Chris Stewart/Associated Press

Staff members of the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua, Hawaii, took precautions on Thursday.

HONOLULU — Barely holding on to hurricane strength, Iselle’s outer edges brought rain and wind to Hawaii on Thursday as it approached landfall, poised to become the first hurricane or tropical storm to hit the island chain in 22 years. Another hurricane closely followed its path.

Hurricane Iselle was expected to pass overnight across the Big Island, one of the least populated islands, known for coffee fields, volcanoes, and black sand beaches, then send rain and high winds to the rest of the state on Friday. The storm’s predicted track had it skirting just south of the other islands.

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Forecasters were analyzing storm data before making possible changes to its categorization, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Lau said.

‘‘But we’re not really too concerned about the track or the intensity of the system,’’ Lau said. ‘‘We’re primarily urging residents to still take proper precautions to prepare themselves to keep everyone safe.’’

Hundreds of people flowed into emergency shelters set up at high schools on the Big Island, and Mayor Billy Kenoi told KHON-TV that no major injuries or damage had been reported.

Others got ready by making last-minute trips to the store and boarding up windows.

‘‘It’s getting more windy, and it’s raining pretty good,’’ said Denise Laitinen on the Big Island. ‘‘But I’m ready for it.’’

Meanwhile, Hurricane Julio, a Category 2 storm, followed Iselle’s path with sustained maximum winds of 105 miles per hour. It was about 1,000 miles behind Iselle and projected to head just north of the islands early Sunday morning.

Hawaii has been directly hit by hurricanes only three times since 1950. The last time it was hit with a hurricane or tropical storm was in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki killed six people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes in Kauai, Lau said.

Governor Neil Abercrombie said the state is prepared for the back-to-back storms, noting the National Guard is at the ready and state and local governments were closing offices, schools, and transit services across Hawaii.

State Attorney General David Louie promised that Saturday’s primary elections, including congressional and gubernatorial races, will go forward as planned.

As residents prepared for the possible one-two punch of storms, a 4.5-magnitude earthquake struck the Big Island but didn’t cause major damage. There were no reports of injuries.

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