Hurricane Lane strengthens to Cat 5 as it heads toward Hawaii: NHC

Hurricane Lane a dangerous Category 4 storm headed toward Hawaii	 	 	 			Hurricane Lane a dangerous Category 4 storm headed toward Hawaii

The extremely powerful Hurricane Lane is closing in on Hawaii, where heavy rain, strong winds and risky surf are expected Thursday into the weekend. State offices on Hawaii Island and Maui will be closed from Wednesday through Friday. But "Lane is forecast to remain a unsafe hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands", the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, based in Honolulu, said. All county offices are scheduled to be open today.

The National Weather Service says Hurricane Lane has strengthened to become a Category 5 hurricane, which means that it is likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds of 157 miles per hour or above. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or unsafe.

The storm had been moving west but is expected to turn northwest toward the state Wednesday.

Slight weakening is expected during the next couple of days, but Lane is forecast to remain a unsafe hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands.

A hurricane warning is in place for Hawaii County on the Big Island, while a hurricane watch is in effect over Maui County and all of Oahu, according to the National Weather Service. By the evening, the storm's center is expected to be about 250 miles south of Kailua-Kona and 200 miles south of South Point.

Though Hurricane Lane is expected to weaken to a category 3 storm by Thursday afternoon, it is still forecasted to remain a unsafe storm as is draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands.

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. Preparations there should be rushed to completion as tropical-storm force winds are forecast to arrive in the warning area by late Wednesday or early Thursday.

"One thing is for sure, the coast will continue to feel the impacts of swell, gradually increasing with the approaching storm to a peak around mid-week with strong surf (large waves for some of the well-exposed areas)", Warren said. Rainfall accumulations are expected to be around 4 to 8 inches with locally higher amounts, he said.

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.

Satellite view of the eye of Hurricane Lane. Prior to that, Lane is forecast to be about 140 miles SW of South Point on the Big Island at 2 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23 with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph; and about 50 miles W of the Big Island at 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon with maximum sustained winds near 115 mph (Category 3).

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The Hawaiian Islands could see more than 20 inches of rain over the next several days from this hurricane.

For areas of North Kohala and Hamakua, forecasters are expecting 20-30 miles per hour winds with gusts to 45 miles per hour. "I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact".

Lane's maximum sustained winds are almost 160 mph, the National Weather Service said, which will slowly weaken over the next 48 hours.

This is expected to trigger flash flooding and landslides, the NWS said.

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

"The hospital is fully prepared to handle this storm", Donovan said.

He said: "Hurricane Lane has the potential of bringing the state of Hawaii serious and perhaps record damage". The utility is also in contact with the Western Regional Mutual Assistance Group and other utility industry organizations ready to provide personnel and equipment as needed.

- Extensive wind damage to property with possible power outages.

Also Tuesday, Gov. David Ige and Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim signed emergency proclamations ahead of the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Lane.

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