(by Andrew Freedman, Mashable) -- Assuming the storm evolves as current forecasts show it will, it would set numerous benchmarks in Hawaii's hurricane history. Here are a few.
The records Iselle could break
1. First hurricane for the main islands in 22 years
Iselle would become the first hurricane to make landfall on the main Hawaiian Islands in 22 years, since 1992's devastating Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai.
2. First ever hurricane for the Big Island
Iselle would be the first hurricane ever to make landfall on the Big Island of Hawaii.
3. No. 8 (or higher) on list of intense storms to hit Hawaii
Iselle would become just the eighth tropical cyclone of tropical-storm intensity or greater to hit Hawaii. If it hits as a hurricane, it would be only the third hurricane to hit anywhere in the state since modern record-keeping began.
4. First back-to-back hurricanes or tropical storms to strike the state
If Hurricane Julio, which is spinning just two days behind Hurricane Iselle, also strikes Hawaii, it could set a record for the first back-to-back hurricane or tropical storm strikes on the island state on record. (Right now, this looks unlikely to happen, as forecasts take Julio to the north of the islands.)
5. First year Hawaii has had two hurricanes
As the Capital Weather Gang blog reported, the last time two tropical storms passed near Hawaii in the same year was 1983. "But they were nearly two months apart — not three DAYS! Two hurricanes have never affected Hawaii in the same year..."
Although Hawaii sits smack dab in the central Pacific Ocean, which as a whole is the ocean that has the most tropical cyclones on Earth — hurricanes and typhoons are the same type of storm, just called different things — landfalling hurricanes striking the Hawaiian Islands are extremely rare. Only seven tropical cyclones of tropical storm intensity or stronger have hit the islands since reliable hurricane records began.
Just one tropical storm has hit the Big Island from the east, which is where Iselle is approaching from. The only two major hurricanes of Category 3 intensity or stronger, hit the islands from the south, where the water is warmer and upper atmospheric winds tend to be weaker. These two hurricanes both hit Kauai, which lies about 300 miles to the northwest of the Big Island.
The last hurricane to hit the islands struck Kauai in 1992. That storm, Hurricane Iniki, devastated the island, causing at least $2 billion in damage.
Because no hurricane has ever hit the Big Island, it's unclear what the effects will be. The island has high terrain, including the nearly 14,000 foot Mauna Loa, home to a famous atmospheric science observatory that keeps tabs on global carbon dioxide levels.