Hawaii residents brace for impact as Hurricane Lane approaches

Iniki made landfall on Kauai as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, becoming just the second hurricane to come ashore on the islands in recorded history.

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year.

Should hurricane-force winds materialize, it would result in "considerable roof damage to sturdy buildings", severe damage to mobile homes, "many large trees snapped or uprooted", "impassable" roads and power outages, the National Weather Service said.

The storm is now moving westward at 12 miles per hour (19 km/h) and should continue to move west through tonight.

The centre of the storm is expected to track "dangerously" close to or over the islands between Thursday and Saturday, the NHC said.

Hawaii residents rushed to stores to stock up on bottled water, ramen, toilet paper and other supplies as they faced the threat of heavy rain, flash flooding and high surf as a strengthening hurricane continued to churn toward the state. "Tropical storm conditions are possible within the Hurricane Watch area beginning Thursday into Thursday night, with hurricane conditions possible late Thursday night into Friday".

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Lane was a Category 5 hurricane circulating 160 mph winds some 360 miles south-southeast of Kailua-Kona and 300 miles south-southeast of South Point, according to Honolulu-based Central Pacific Hurricane Center forecasters. The counties of Hawai'i, Maui, Kalawao, Kaua'i 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.

Hurricane watches and warnings from the National Weather Service were in effect Wednesday for several of the islands, including the Big Island, Maui and Kauai.

As Hurricane Lane takes a sharp turn north toward the islands Wednesday - and moves into cooler Pacific water - it is expected to weaken significantly, going from Category 5 to possibly Category 1 by Friday.

It's not possible to know which islands will see the worst storm effects right now due to the close proximity of the hurricane track to the Hawaiian Islands and uncertainties in Lane's track caused by increasing wind shear through the atmosphere as it moves northward.

Hurricane Lane will impact the islands for the end of the week and into start of the weekend.

Part of the reason hurricanes are rare in Hawaii is that the state presents a pretty small target in a very big ocean.

Hurricane watches and warnings have been posted for the Hawaiian Islands.

"We're not a sheltering place for the community", she said, explaining that during the January false missile alert a lot of people sought refuge at the facility. "But I remember the wind being the strongest force of nature I've ever witnessed and probably the scariest sounds I've ever heard in my life", he said.

  • Joe Gonzales