HONOLULU, Hawaii — Hurricane Lane weakened late Thursday to a Category 3 hurricane as it continued its pass by the Hawaiian Islands. Even so, flooding, high winds and landslides remained a major concern.
The greatest threat of rain and wind has shifted to the islands of Maui and Oahu through Friday, the National Weather Service said, with winds as high as 120 mph a possibility.
The hurricane began to pass to the west of the Big Island of Hawaii on Thursday and, by 5 p.m. local time, the NWS had downgraded the danger level for the area to a tropical storm warning.
Five people had to be rescued from a flooded house in Hilo on the east side of the island of Hawaii on Thursday. Two campers who were trapped overnight in the Waipio Valley had to be rescued by helicopter.
The storm was still some 250 miles from the island of Oahu, and the state capitol Honolulu, and both Oahu and Maui were still under a hurricane warnings late Thursday night local time
Lane’s center is predicted to move over or dangerously near the island on Friday.
‘A new experience’
At 4 p.m. Thursday, officials activated emergency siren systems on Oahu to provide an additional hurricane warning.
The eerie wail of the sirens blasted through Honolulu on a somewhat windy but still warm and inviting afternoon. The streets near Waikiki Beach were full of tourists busily taking pictures in front of high waves and the Weather Channel team that had set up on the beach in front of the Hilton Hawaii Village.
Most took the extreme weather event in stride.
“It’s a new experience; I never expected to live through a hurricane,” said Kelly Scholten of Waupun, Wisconsin. She and her daughters had walked from the hotel to take photos of the increasingly high waves crashing into the seawall hear Waikiki Beach.
“Our hotel, the Ilikai, has been really good. We reserved three more nights in case our plane can’t get out on Saturday. But they said if we could get out earlier they wouldn’t charge us. And they’ve been keeping us really up to date with the storm. We even get messages about it slipped under our door,” Scholten said.
A couple from Australia who’d planned their dream wedding in Hawaii had slightly different nuptials than planned — though they seemed undaunted by the experience Thursday night as they walked to the beach to take photos just after their hurried wedding.
“We definitely did not expect this. It was a bit touch-and-go,” said Jayde Dixon, 25.
“Our ceremony was supposed to happen at 5 o’clock at a chapel across town. But then last night they rang us up and said they were moving the whole thing to 3 to be safe. And moving it to the Hilton where we’re staying.”
The couple, from Townsville, Australia, had 15 friends and family with them.
“Not sure when they’ll get home. They were supposed to fly out tomorrow but now they’re staying,” because their flights have been cancelled, said Jamie Dixon, 28.
The newlyweds are staying in Hawaii for their honeymoon and were looking forward to it.
“As long as the wedding happened in Hawaii, the rest doesn’t matter,” said Jamie.
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