Floods Hit Big Island As Other Parts Of Hawaii Brace For Hurricane

President Trump Declares State Of Emergency In Hawaii As Islanders Prepare For Hurricane Lane

As of Friday morning, Hurricane Lane's center was just under 200 miles from Honolulu.

Embarkation will be available both on Sunday and Monday, with the ship due to sail at 6 p.m. Monday. Kauai is now under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 48 hours.

Lane was downgraded on Friday to a Category 1, the lowest ranking on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, as it churned through the Pacific south of Oahu, the National Weather Service said.

Hurricane Lane could be the most powerful storm to hit Hawaii since Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

"I've not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I've seen with this storm", Governor David Ige said in a statement as he declared a state of emergency earlier this week on the Big Island.

Meanwhile United Airlines said it had cancelled all Friday flights to and from the main airports on Maui, the second-largest island.

"Hurricane Lane is still a unsafe and powerful storm", said Gov. David Ige, in a news conference Thursday afternoon.

"We're planning on boarding up all our windows and sliding doors", Napua Puaoi of Wailuku, Maui, said after buying plywood from Home Depot.

More than 1,500 people stayed at Red Cross evacuation centers across Hawaii Thursday night, the Red Cross said.

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The US Coast Guard says 57,000 US military personnel stationed in Hawaii are ready to offer medical support and conduct search and rescue operations. An additional 10 to 20 inches of rain are expected for Hawaii through Monday, while rainfall rates could reach 3 inches per hour at times this weekend.

Lane first approached the islands earlier this week as a Category 5 hurricane, meaning it was likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds of 157 miles per hour (252 kph) or above. Forecasters said the centre of the storm will move close to or over parts of Hawaii's main islands late Friday, bringing unsafe surf of six meters.

According to NWS, only four named storms have made landfall in Hawaii since 1959 - and only two of those storms were hurricanes.

Parts of the Big Island (which is far out of the cone of uncertainty at this point-meaning the eye won't even skirt the island) have seen more than 30 inches of rain and some areas are experiencing flooding.

Flames burned nine homes in the historic coastal town of Lahaina and forced 600 people to evacuate, Maui County spokeswoman Lynn Araki-Regan said.

As of 11am Hawaii time (3am AEST on Saturday), Lane was moving north at 8km/h and was about 245km south of Honolulu on Oahu. Hawaii rarely gets hit.

Officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources transferred about 2,000 rare Hawaiian snails from a mountain marsh to offices in downtown Honolulu on Oahu, the state's most populated island.

The Trump administration's disaster response came under heavy criticism past year after a pair of hurricanes struck Florida and Puerto Rico, leaving millions without power for months on Puerto Rico.

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