Cat 5 cyclone aims for Big Island

Locally over 3 inches of rainfall is possible in parts of Pennsylvania and western New York
ABC NewsLocally over 3 inches of rainfall is possible in parts of Pennsylvania and western New York

23 August, 2018

On Tuesday night, the National Weather Service announced that Hurricane Lane had strengthened to become a Category 5 hurricane, which means that it is likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds 157 miles per hour or above.

Without a direct impact by the center - or near center - of the storm, the islands will still expect tropical storm conditions from the hurricane as it most likely passes south of the island chain.

Gavin Shigesato, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said Tuesday that tropical storm conditions are possible beginning tonight, with hurricane conditions possible on Thursday.

Still a powerful category 4, Hurricane Lane has sustained winds at 155 miles per hour. The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Iniki in 1992, which struck Kaua'i.

Tropical-storm-force winds - 39-73 miles per hour - and rain could arrive at the Big Island and Maui County late Wednesday and early Thursday, and at the other islands Thursday or Friday.

After hitting the Big Island, the storm is expected to move north over the islands of Maui, Lanai and Moloka'i, which were all under hurricane and flash flood watches. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Oahu, Kauai County, including the islands of Kauai and Niihau.

Hurricane Lane, weakening to a Category 4 storm as it pushes through the Pacific, is still as much as three days away from Hawaii but is already bringing heavy rain to the Big Island.

Public schools on the Big Island and in Maui County were closed Wednesday until further notice.

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Even if the centre of Lane doesn't make landfall, the islands could be walloped with rain and wind.

The long and short of it: It's still too soon to know the impacts, if any, the storm will have on any of the islands.

Residents of the islands descended on grocery stores and hardware stores to stock up ahead of the storm, and there were long lines at gas stations, according to local media reports.

"We're planning on boarding up all our windows and sliding doors", Napua Puaoi of Wailuku, Maui, said after buying 16 pieces of plywood from Home Depot. "They're the ones rushing to the store", he said. He planned to call in more workers to cope with an expected afternoon rush.

Lane was about 505km south of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, at 5am Hawaii time, United States forecasters said. "Remember, if the power goes out, ATMs aren't going to be working".

American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines issued travel advisories to customers flying to or from Hawaii.

A Hurricane Warning has been issued for the Big Island, a Hurricane Watch has been issued for O'ahu and Maui County.

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