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Hawaii’s Big Island readies as Hurricane Hector approaches

“Basically the system appears to have almost shut down completely over the course of a couple of days,” said Tina Neal, scientist-in-charge at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. She likened it to turning off a spigot.

The significance of the change was not yet clear, scientists said, and they were trying to figure out why it’s happening.

“It is common for eruptions to wax and wane or pause completely,” the observatory said in an update posted online. “A return to high levels of lava discharge or new outbreaks in the area of active fissures could occur at any time.”

Meanwhile, a tropical storm watch was in effect Monday for the Big Island as Hurricane Hector was expected to pass Tuesday night and Wednesday as it moved westward.

“The volcano, Madam Pele, has totally wiped out all the homes that would have been in danger,” he said, referring to the Hawaiian volcano goddess, and noting that those neighborhoods suffered a lot of damage when Tropical Storm Iselle hit the Big Island in 2014.

“You accept it. This is nature’s way,” he said.

The southern half of the island should brace for winds of 35 mph (56.3 kph) or higher, said Melissa Dye, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. There could also be a few inches of rain into onThursday as Hector passes the island, she said.

The forecast wasn’t allowing Punaluu Bakery Bake shop general manager Connie Koi to let her guard down. Even a slight deviation in Hector’s path or strength could mean flooded roads and torrential rains and strong winds for Naalehu, a remote southern community.

“I am worried about it approaching our neighborhood,” she said. “It’s kind of too close for comfort.”

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