Hurricane Lane has maximum sustained winds at 145 mph and is moving on a northwesterly course to pass close to the islands.
HONOLULU – A foot of rain spawned by the approach of Hurricane Lane soaked Hawaii’s Big Island Thursday and forecasters warned some areas could see up to 30 inches before the storm turned westward during the weekend.
From Oahu to the Big Island, Hawaiians stocked up on food, lined up at gas stations and hauled out generators as the outer bands of rain began inundating some islands with the approach of Hurricane Lane.
Damaging tropical storm-force winds were expeced Thursday on the island of Hawaii and by nightfall on Oahu, with hurricane force-winds possible Friday, the weather service said. Tornadoes and large waterspouts are also possible.
A flash flood warning was in effect on the Big Island as rain pounded the island at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour, causing severe flooding and closing at least one highway.
A high surf warning remained in effect for all islands through Friday, with a sufp up to 25 feet along the Kau and Puna coasts.
“Stay well away from the shoreline,” weather officials warned.“Large breaking surf, and dangerous currents make entering the water extremely hazardous. Anyone entering the water could face death.”
By Thursday morning, Lane, with maximum sustained winds at 130 mph, was 210 miles from the Big Island of Hawaii and 305 miles south of Honolulu, moving on a northwesterly course at 7 mph. It was expected to pass very close to or over the islands Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service, then likely turn west.
“Hurricane Lane is not a well- behaved hurricane. Gov. David Ige said in a proclamation. “I’ve not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I’ve seen with this storm. I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact.”
Officials opened shelters on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai on Wednesday. They urged those needing to use the Molokai shelter to get there soon because of concerns the main highway on the south coast of the island could become impassable.
On the island of Oahu, shelters were scheduled to open Thursday. Officials were also working to help Hawaii’s sizable homeless population, many of whom live near beaches and streams that could flood.
Officials warned the limited shelter space should be a “last resort” and aren’t designed to withstand winds greater than about 40 mph.
“Whenever possible, the public should plan to shelter in place or stay with family or friends in homes outside of these hazard areas that were designed, built, or renovated to withstand anticipated conditions,” the city and county of Honolulu said in a news release.
President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration for the state Thursday morning, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts.
But even as forecasters warned of the approach of dangerous winds, most people in Honolulu were relatively calm about the possibility of being hit by the first hurricane since Hawaii’s statehood in 1959.
“I’m not really worried. But better safe than sorry,” said Pearl Ng, who filled her shopping cart with ramen noodles, bottled water and a box of Fig Newtons as she shopped at the Safeway store near downtown. “And if it doesn’t happen, then we’ll have these in the cupboard.”
In Honolulu, at Longs Drugs, lines stretched far back into the aisles, and the bottled water and canned food aisles were almost picked clean by 5 p.m. local time. Heads popped up as almost every cellphone in the store began emitting the ominous blat tone of an emergency warning that was automatically sent to everyone in the area that a Hurricane Warning was in effect.
“That’s the first one I’ve got,” Sophie Granger said as she put her goods on the checkout conveyor. She was not buying up water but had grabbed a few batteries “just in case,” she said.
In the parking lot, Justin Pagba was delivering a room-sized generator for Longs. He skillfully maneuvered the large trailer into place under some trees where it would be accessible to the store.
His company, Golden Equipment Transport of Waipahu, west of Honolulu, has been working hard since the hurricane emerged as a threat. He has been delivering generators to Longs and CVS Pharmacy all day.
“We’ve set up five of these today, and we’ve got another five scheduled for tomorrow,” he said.
The generators are enough to run an entire large store for 10 to 15 hours, he said. “But it’s just in case the power goes off,” he said.
While state and county officials have been encouraging residents and visitors to prepare for the worst, many weren’t all that concerned.
“It is what it is,” said Leanne Day of Sydney. She and her husband have spent the last two weeks touring the Hawaiian islands and are scheduled to leave on Saturday.
“Or not,” she said, laughing, as she and her husband picked up their rental car at the Honolulu airport.
“You can’t control nature,” Jeff Day said. “We get them in Australia, too. You just have to pay attention.”
“Though he did call the hotel and make sure that the parking wasn’t underground,” his wife said. “We didn’t know what the rental company would say if we had to call and say our car was underwater.”
Carla Magallanes and her family arrived Wednesday night in Honolulu from Florida, where she and her daughter, Arianna, have been preparing to take part in a grueling sports obstacle competition called the Spartan Race.
“We’re used to this, being from Florida,” she said.
Though as they were arriving at the airport, race organizers had already canceled events on Friday and Saturday due to the hurricane.
“Our race is on Saturday,” she said, laughing.
Race organizers were hoping to possibly hold an event Sunday.
Contributing: Doug Stanglin in McLean, Va.
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