Hurricane Lane has maximum sustained winds at 145 mph and is moving on a northwesterly course to pass close to the islands.
HONOLULU, Hawaii — Heavy rains and flooding hit the islands of Hawaii and Maui Thursday, even as the final track of Hurricane Lane remains uncertain.
But even before the main brunt of the storm hits Oahu on Friday, the storm has already dumped as much as 20 inches of rain in some areas. Roads are being closed, schools are shuttered, and malls are shutting down as the island chain hunkers down.
By Thursday noon local time, the Category 4 hurricane was about 275 miles south of Honolulu, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. It is expected to curve to the north later Thursday. The center of the massive storm is expected to come over or dangerously near the central islands beginning Thursday evening and through Friday.
Lane’s hurricane-force winds of 130 miles per hour extend outward as much as 35 miles from the storm’s center, while winds of up to 75 miles per hour could stretch as far as 130 miles.
Even if the center stays off the coast, high winds and rising water will still potentially be dangerous and deadly, said Rick Knabb, a meteorologist and hurricane expert at The Weather Channel.
“I’m mostly concerned about the flash floods. And damaging winds that could cause potential power outages,” Knabb said.
There’s also the danger of massive coastal effects, which are a concern because so many of Hawaii’s hotels and apartment buildings are built close to the coast so they have ocean views.
“We can’t discount the danger of the coastal impacts, the salt water from the high surf, the crashing waves. The storm surges that might not just make going into the water at the beach dangerous, but could bring water into and onto coastal buildings,” Knapp said.
The central islands of Hawaii, including the capitol of Honolulu on the island of Oahu — home to many of the state’s 1.4 million residents — are at risk for hurricane force winds when the full storm begins to heavily impact the island on Friday.
Officials have closed some highways on the islands “out of an abundance of caution” over concerns about flooding and mudslides.
The U.S. Navy has begun moving ships and submarines out of Pearl Harbor and out of the path of the storm. They will be positioned to come back and provide aid after the storm has passed if they’re needed, the Navy said in a release.
Emergency shelters at 20 schools in Honolulu opened Thursday morning. All Hawaiian public schools as well as universities were closed Thursday and Friday in advance of the storm — in part because many schools are being used as shelters.
“The statewide closures of our campuses and offices will give our school communities time to prepare as the storm is anticipated to make landfall on Oahu Thursday evening, and Kauai on Friday. This will allow the counties to stand up emergency shelters for the public statewide,” Hawaii Department of Education deputy superintendent Phyllis Unebasami said Thursday.
The city of Honolulu announced that it will stop all bus service at 6:00 pm Thursday so the buses can be used to transport people to shelters if necessary.
While officials prepare for the worst, some residents are predicting the full fury of the storm will bypass the islands.
“I’m pretty confident that by the time it gets to us it will be diminished to a Category 1 or a tropical storm,” said Andrew Wheeler, 53, a scuba instructor who plans to ride out the storm on the 41-foot sailboat he lives on.
“I’ve gone through all the precautions. I’ve repositioned the boat, I’ve lashed lines all over the places for more support. I’m on a floating dock, so the storm surge shouldn’t affect me unless it goes up over the pylons,” said Wheeler, who was docked in Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore.
“I’m going to be on this boat for this storm. I may even livestream it on Facebook, if it’s safe to do so,” he said.
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2BG9Wux