Hurricane Lane grows to category 5 as it heads toward Hawaii

Hurricane Lane Watch Aug. 21 2018 5:24 a.m. NOAA map

Hurricane Lane Watch Aug. 21 2018 5:24 a.m. NOAA map

But the agency cautioned, "Lane is forecast to remain a risky hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands".

On Tuesday morning, Lane was positioned 450 miles south-southeast of Kona, tracking west at 12 mph.

The National Weather Service said tropical-storm-force winds could begin as early as Wednesday afternoon on the Big Island.

"I helped out with Hurricane Iniki, I was in the military and came over here when they had the devastation, so I kind of see the after effects of it", he said.

Landfalling hurricanes are very rare in Hawaii, as the Central Pacific does not normally see as many storms as the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific, and the Hawaiian Islands present a very small target in the vast Pacific Ocean. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Especially in this high terrain, such rainfall could lead to devastating flash flooding and mudslides. 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. Some 18-24 inches, with locally higher amounts, could fall as the storm passes.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city has also issued an emergency proclamation and on Tuesday urged residents to take the storm "very seriously".

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year, and Hawaii rarely gets hit. Coastal evacuations and road closures are possible. The entire island chain may face serious effects from the storm.

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"At this time, it looks like maybe Puna will be spared", county Managing Director Wil Okabe said of the beleaguered, rural district.

He said: "A lot of people are comparing the similarities between Iniki and Lane". "We did shelter them in the cafeteria because it was short-lived (the alert), but we want to make sure the community doesn't seek shelter in the hospital because we could be handling emergency needs".

"You do not need a landfall for a hurricane to be a deadly - billion dollar disaster", tweeted Bill Karins, meteorologist for MSNBC. "There will be outages if the islands are hit by powerful winds, torrential rain, and flooding".

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is allowing non-essential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave from Wednesday to Friday as Hurricane Lane approaches. But, Lane is the closest Category 5 storm to Hawaii that scientists have ever observed, he added.

'Latest forecast models indicate that, regardless of the eventual track and intensity of Lane, an extremely moist air mass will move over the islands beginning around Wednesday, and then persist through the end of the week, ' forecasters said. All pavilion and camping permits have been canceled.

A hurricane watch has been posted for Maui Counties and Hawaii Island.

Whittington and Punaluu beach parks remain closed.

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