- Hurricane Lane, a Category 3 storm, is heading towards Hawaii.
- The National Weather Service said the storm is expected to track towards the islands later on Thursday, bringing 145 mph winds and a risk of flash flooding.
- Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation in advance of the storm.
A Category 3 hurricane is churning towards Hawaii.
The National Weather Service on Thursday evening downgraded Hurricane Lane to a Category 3 storm, meaning it has the potential to bring winds to about 130 miles-per-hour and cause severe damage to Hawaii’s islands.
The edge of the storm is already dumping rain on Hawaii’s Big Island as of Thursday morning, and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center expects the storm to track towards the Hawaiian Islands between Thursday afternoon and Saturday.
“The onset of damaging tropical storm-force winds on the Big Island could occur by early Thursday morning, with dangerous hurricane force winds expected in some areas Thursday afternoon or Thursday night,” The National Weather Service said. “The center of Lane will track dangerously close to the islands Thursday through Saturday.”
The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for the islands of Kauai and Niihau, which is the most severe alert level. A hurricane warning means a hazardous weather event is “imminent or likely.”
The weather service further warned that “life-threatening impacts are likely” as the hurricane makes its closest approach to Hawaii, and issued a hurricane watch – the second highest warning level – for Oahu, Maui, and other Hawaiian islands as meteorologists closely track the storm.
“Regardless of the exact track of the storm, life threatening impacts are likely over many areas as this strong hurricane makes its closest approach,” The National Weather Service said. “All individuals in Hawaii are urged not to focus on the exact forecast track or intensity of Lane, and be prepared for adjustments in future forecast updates.”
Beyond wind damage, the National Weather Service warns that powerful hurricanes like Lane can cause intense rain, tidal surges, flooding, and even localized tornadoes. Even if the center of the hurricane doesn’t make landfall, rough surf, rain, and wind could still cause flooding and severe damage to communities in Hawaii.
The storm also has the potential to dump up to 36 inches across the Hawaiian Islands, according to The National Weather Service.
Hawaii Governor David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on Tuesday to “provide relief for disaster damages, losses and suffering” associated with the storm.
The state’s Department of Emergency Management issued a flash flood warning throughout the state and said flooding associated with the hurricane could become a “very dangerous situation.”
Hawaii residents have rushed to prepare for the oncoming hurricane, stocking up on non-perishable foods, bottled water, and life essentials like toilet paper, according to the Associated Press.
Social media videos posted from around the islands show stores running out of essential supplies in advance of the storm.
Schools in Maui and Oahu will be closed starting Wednesday, and all non-essential government employees on those islands will be put on administrative leave, according to the AP.
Hurricanes rarely make landfall in Hawaii as the central Pacific sees fewer storms than the Atlantic, and Hawaii is a “small target” in the Pacific Ocean, according to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.
Earlier this year, the Kilauea Volcano erupted on Hawaii’s Big Island, causing widespread damage to property in communities across the eastern side of the island.
While the hurricane is expected to hit the south and west sides of the Big Island – based on current tracks – residents are bracing for the storm across the state.