Posted: 8:26 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014

Earthquake rattles Big Island as hurricanes approach

Hawaiian Hurricanes
Associated Press
This image provided by NOAA taken Thursday Aug. 7, 2014 at 2 a.m. EDT shows Hurricane Iselle, left and Hurricane Julio. Iselle was supposed to weaken as it slowly trudged west across the Pacific. It didn't _ and now Hawaii is poised to take its first direct hurricane hit in 22 years. The center of Hurricane Iselle is expected to pass very near or over the Big Island Thursday night and just south of the smaller islands Friday. Some weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours however Iselle is still expected to be near hurricane strength as it impacts the Big Island. (AP Photo/NOAA)

KTVU and AP Wires

SAN FRANCISCO —

Hours before a hurricane was predicted to hit Hawaii’s Big Island Thursday an earthquake rocked a region near the famous Parker Ranch.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 4.5 magnitude quake struck near Waimea – a sparsely populated are of the Big Island and home to the Parker Ranch, the nation’s largest ranch.

There were no reports of damage or injuries from the quake.

Meanwhile, Bay Area travelers were nervously awaited flights to Hawaii as a pair of hurricanes took aimed at the islands.

Cindy Watson of Half Moon Bay stood in line at the United Airlines counter at San Francisco International ready to check in to her flight to Maui.

“We tried to cancel but one of our reservations wouldn’t let us,” she said. “So we decided to chance it…Hopefully we won’t be spending all our time in the hotel room.”

Evalynne Ho was standing nearby with her family. They were headed to the islands to visit relatives.

“We’ve been there before when there was supposed to be a hurricane,” she told KTVU. “We’ll be okay, but all these (TV) cameras are starting to make me nervous.”

Hawaii residents were preparing for what could be the first hurricane to hit the state in more than 20 years.

The airport at Maui’s Kahului Airport reported long lines as travelers attempted to leave the islands early Thursday before Hurricane Iselle arrived.

Iselle loomed about 600 miles east of Hilo, spinning at about 85 mph, forecasters said. It previously had been expected to weaken significantly before reaching land.

The storm is expected to lash the Big Island on Thursday with damaging winds, heavy rains and high surf. It's now on track to remain hurricane-strength or weaken only to a strong tropical storm, said meteorologist Derek Wroe.

Hurricane Julio, meanwhile, swirled closely behind at about 75 mph. Forecasters expect it to slowly strengthen and pass north of the Big Island sometime this weekend.

Lixion Avlia, senior hurricane forecaster with National Hurricane Center in Miami, said the Hurricane Julio remained too far away to accurately predict its path.

Hawaii has been directly hit by hurricanes only three times since 1950, though the region has had 147 tropical cyclones over that time. The last time Hawaii was hit with a tropical storm or hurricane was in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki killed six people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes in Kauai, said Meteorologist Eric Lau.

"We've been lucky so far," he said. "So we just need to really take this threat seriously and make sure everybody is prepared."

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