Hurricane Lane: Holiday hotspot braced for LIFE THREATENING conditions

Hurricane Lane strengthens to Category 5 storm as it nears Hawaii

The hurricane was about 465 miles (804 kilometers) southeast of Honolulu before dawn Wednesday and The National Weather Service extended a hurricane warning for Hawaii's Big Island to include the island of Maui.

Lane is moving toward the west-northwest near 9 miles per hour, a motion that is expected to continue tonight.

State offices on Hawaii Island and Maui will be closed Wednesday through Friday, as the governor announced that nonessential state employees in the two counties will be put on administrative leave.

Hawaii is bracing for a Category 5 hurricane, with high winds forecast to hit the Big Island as early as this afternoon. Hawaii County remains under a hurricane warning, and Oahu under a hurricane watch.

The hurricane is about 500 miles (804km) south east of Honolulu, the capital.

Camera IconBrianna Sugimura unloads supplies for riding out the storm while her children, Radon-Kai and Kanaloa watch in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Lihue, on the island of Kauai.Picture: AP, AP.Camera IconBryce and Dom Boeder of Waimea, Kauai, load their truck with storm supplies.Picture: AP, AP.

Damaging tropical storm force winds could begin as early as Wednesday night in Maui County, with unsafe hurricane force winds possible starting Thursday, the weather service said.

Bearing 155-mile per hour (250 km/h) winds, it threatened to dump as much as 20 inches (50 cm) of rain over parts of the islands, triggering major flash flooding and landslides.

The counties of Hawaii, Maui, Kalawao, Kauai and the City and County of Honolulu are in danger of experiencing high winds, heavy rains, high surf, storm surges and flooding that threaten to harm communities and cause extensive damage to public and private property across the state. It has since returned to Category 4 status. Forecasters say it has a distinct, and impressive eye.

"Slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Lane is forecast to remain a risky hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands", the center said. Wave heights of 15 to 25 feet are forecast with the largest surf expected along the island's southern and the southeastern coasts.

In anticipation of the storm, Ige signed an emergency proclamation that declares certain counties of Hawaii disaster areas and allows for the spending of state money for quick and efficient relief for damages, loss and suffering.

There is still a high degree of uncertainty on the forecast track and intensity of Lane. It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands are directly impacted. "Even if the center of Lane were to remain offshore, it is important to remember that impacts from a hurricane can extend well away from the center".

He said: "Hurricane Lane has the potential of bringing the state of Hawaii serious and perhaps record damage". Deep tropical moisture associated with Lane will spread across all islands.

As of 8 a.m. today, Lane was about 420 miles south-southeast of Hilo, 450 miles south-southeast of Kailua-Kona and 390 miles south-southeast of South Point.

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