Hurricane warnings and watches have been issued across Hawaii after the National Weather Service (NWS) Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu advised that Hurricane Lane has now strengthened to a Category 5 storm.
All public and charter schools and Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) offices on Hawaii Island and in Maui County will be closed Wednesday, Aug. 22, until further notice, in anticipation of risky storm conditions from Hurricane Lane.
The most powerful storm on record hitting Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 that made landfall on Kauai island on September 11, 1992, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Roofs and walls will collapse.
The powerful Category 4 is marching toward the state, and is forecast to bring torrential rains, high winds and monster surf as early as Wednesday. Tropical storm conditions are possible within the Hurricane Watch area beginning Thursday into Thursday night, with hurricane conditions possible late Thursday night into Friday.
More hurricane watches were expected to be issued for other Hawaiian islands, said the Honolulu-based hurricane center. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or risky.
"Slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Lane is forecast to remain a unsafe hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands".
Islanders are being warned the unsafe Category 4 storm could bring winds with a maximum sustained speed of 150mph and flash flooding as early as Thursday.
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Footage on social media showed staff writing out the flight status of each flight and rubbing them off as updates came in . In a tweet , the airport said: "We are sorry, but due to an IT issue our flight information is not displaying correctly".
Hurricane Lane weakened slightly overnight but continues its march toward the islands.
But the hurricane centre said the storm will move very close to or over the islands between Thursday and Saturday. The spaghetti models, which meteorologists use to visualize potential storm paths, further underscore the uncertainty.
The gas lines were long at Costco in Kahului on Tuesday as Hurricane Lane approached the Hawaiian Islands.
Hurricane Lane, a major storm approaching Hawaii, is shown here in a NASA photograph taken on August 16, 2018. All after-school activities statewide are cancelled for the rest of the week.
There are only two hurricanes on record that have made landfall in Hawaii, and both were on Kauai: Category 1 Dot hit in 1959 and catastrophic Category 4 Iniki came ashore in 1992.
Given the multiple hazards posed by the storm and the island chain's vulnerability, emergency management and local officials have pleaded with residents to prepare.
"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. "Remember, if the power goes out, ATMs aren't going to be working".