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Hawaii largely dodges one-two storm punch

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Surfers and body boarders wait for waves at Sandy Beach Park in Honolulu on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. Tropical Storm Iselle is causing higher-than-normal waves in parts of the island of Oahu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Surfers and body boarders wait for waves at Sandy Beach Park in Honolulu on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. Tropical Storm Iselle is causing higher-than-normal waves in parts of the island of Oahu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

A boogie boarder barrels through the waves at Sandy Beach Park, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Honolulu. As the first tropical storm to hit Hawaii in 22 years passed by the islands, some coffee farmers on the Big Island began navigating flooded roads to assess damage to their crops Friday while tourists wandered the beaches of Oahu and surfers took to the waves despite driving rain and wind. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

A man uses an umbrella against the rain as he walks across Kapiolani Blvd in Waikiki in Honolulu on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. Rain and wind gusts are hitting parts of Oahu as Tropical Storm Iselle heads towards the island. Iselle is the first tropical storm to hit the state in 22 years. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

With a rainbow in the background, a surfer paddles to shore in Honolulu on Friday, Aug, 8, 2014. Iselle came ashore early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, close behind it, strengthened and is forecasted to pass north of the islands. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Rain falls on Diamond Head and Waikiki in Honolulu on the island of Oahu on Friday, Aug, 8, 2014. Iselle came ashore onto the Big Island early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, close behind it, strengthened and is forecasted to pass north of the islands. Iselle is the first tropical storm to hit the state in 22 years. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

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HONOLULU (AP) — The one-two hurricane punch that was supposed to hit Hawaii is looking more like a jab and a missed left hook.

After Hawaii cleared Tropical Storm Iselle largely without deterring sunbathers and surfers, the state looked toward Hurricane Julio, which was expected to pass roughly 160 miles northeast of the islands at its closest point early Sunday and linger near the state into Monday.

While prospects for Julio could quickly change, the storms appear to have been more a scare for Hawaii than a significant threat.

“This was no Sandy or Katrina or any other storm that you remember the name of,” said Sylvia Dahlby, 58, of Hilo, on the Big Island. The Big Island took the brunt of a weakening Iselle on Thursday night and early Friday. By late Friday night, the National Weather Service announced that it had canceled all storm watches and warnings for the state.

Iselle knocked down power lines, phones and trees, but it not did not cause major damage or injuries.

People were out and about throughout Hawaii on Friday afternoon after a nonexistent morning commute in usually congested Honolulu and elsewhere.

Wind and rain swept through Maui, Oahu and Kauai and lingered on the Big Island. The National Weather Service put Oahu and Kauai under flood advisories Friday night. Two communities in Puna were isolated by damaged roadways enough to prompt elections officials to postpone voting for two precincts, though state officials said the rest of a primary election planned for Saturday would continue as planned, with results revealed. The ticket in heavily Democratic Hawaii includes two marquee primaries, a Senate race and a governor’s race, plus a wide-open House race.

Shawncee Guerrero, a cashier at a surf shop in Waimea on Hawaii’s Big Island, said the scariest part was not knowing what elements were coming or how severe they would be.

“Now we have to wonder what’s next,” Guerrero said as she worked while waiting for power to be restored at her home with her family in Honokaa.

While it lacked power, Iselle was the first tropical storm to hit Hawaii in 22 years. After it hit, coffee farmers on the Big Island navigated flooded roads to assess damage to their crops.

Those staying in shelters were told to return home, while crews and residents used chain saws to clear trees from roads on the Big Island.

On Oahu, surfers rode waves where they could, despite a warning from lifeguards that they would only respond to emergency calls.

“I’m just going to hit the hurricanes and then leave,” said Scott Bush, a California surfer who booked tickets to Honolulu with his 14-year-old son after hearing about the possibility of two hurricanes. He planned to surf until the middle of next week. “The power of the ocean is just incredible,” Bush said.

The National Weather Service canceled its tropical storm warnings for the islands Friday afternoon. The U.S. Coast Guard on Friday reopened all but the Port of Kaunakai on Molokai.

Still, the National Park Service said it would keep its popular memorial sites at Pearl Harbor in Oahu closed through Saturday as staff keeps an eye on Hurricane Julio.

The state Department of Health warned the public to stay out of floodwaters and storm-water runoff across Hawaii because they are known to attract sharks as they wash dead animals into the ocean.

Hurricanes or tropical storms had directly hit Hawaii only three times since 1950. The last time was in 1992, when Hurricane Iniki killed six people and destroyed more than 1,400 homes in Kauai.

The state prepared for the back-to-back storms by closing government offices, schools and transit services across Hawaii. Travelers faced disrupted plans as several airlines canceled dozens of flights Thursday, but most flights weren’t interrupted Friday. Some airlines waived reservation-change fees and fare differences for passengers who needed to alter their plans.

The storms are rare in Hawaii, but they are not unexpected in El Nino years, a change in ocean temperature that affects weather around the world. Ahead of this year’s hurricane season, weather officials warned the wide swath of the Pacific Ocean that includes Hawaii could see four to seven tropical storms this year.

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Associated Press writers Oskar Garcia, Cathy Bussewitz and Manuel Valdes in Honolulu; Karin Stanton in Kailua-Kona; and Brian Skoloff in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Associated Press

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