HONOLULU (AP) -- The first storm in a one-two punch that sent Hawaii scrambling to brace itself weakened on its approach to the state, while a second system close behind was largely expected to pass north of the islands.
The National Weather Service downgraded Iselle to a tropical storm about 50 miles before it was expected to make landfall early Friday in the southern part of Hawaii's Big Island.
Wind and rain from the system still had enough force to knock down trees, cause power outages and block roads on the Big Island, however. No deaths or major injuries were reported.
Iselle was classified as a tropical storm 11 p.m. Thursday Hawaii Standard Time when its winds slowed to 70 mph, putting it below the minimum of 74 mph for a hurricane.
The storm was weakening because of several factors, including wind shear chopping at the system and the Big Island's terrain above the water, said Chris Brenchley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
"As wind blows into the terrain, the terrain kind of redirects the wind," he said.
Nevertheless, Iselle is expected to be the first tropical storm to actually hit the state in 22 years, and another hurricane is following in its path. Hurricane Julio, a Category 3 storm, is about 1,000 miles behind in the Pacific.
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