Hurricane Lane’s outer bands have been pummeling parts of Hawaii’s Big Island with rain Thursday morning, triggering landslides and threatening serious flooding as the Category 4cyclone moves perilously close to the Aloha State.
The center of the storm — which could become the first major cyclone to make landfall in the state in 26 years — is expected to move very close to the main islands or cross land Thursday through Friday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said.
It could be so devastating that Hawaii Gov. David Inge has urged residents to set aside two weeks’ worth of food and water.
“Hawaii is going to be impacted by Hurricane Lane. The question is, how bad?” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long told reporters Thursday.
The storm’s center, with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph, was in the Pacific about 205 miles southwest of the Big Island town of Kailua-Kona around 8 a.m. HT Thursday (2 p.m. ET).
Landslides are a concern, with 10-30 inches of rain forecast through the weekend — and slides already were happening on the Big Island as the storm’s outer bands hit Thursday morning.
On the Big Island’s northern tip, landslides were blocking parts of Route 19, the county civil defense agency said.
About 7 to 12 inches of rain already had fallen on parts of the Big Island by early Thursday, the National Weather Service office in Honolulu said.
Buses around Honolulu have been picking up residents in need and taking them to shelters. All public schools canceled classes until further notice, and many state employees have been asked to stay home.
Tropical storm force winds (39-73 mph) stretch out to 140 miles, so even if the hurricane doesn’t make landfall, it could have widespread impact. Lane threatens to bring dangerous winds, landslides, rough surf and major flooding.
All of the islands are under weather alerts.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the Big Island as well as Maui County and Oahu — meaning hurricane conditions are expected there. Kauai and Niihau are under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are possible and that winds of at least 39 mph are anticipated in the comings days.
Why is Hurricane Lane so rare?
The Central Pacific gets few hurricanes and tropical storms: The Atlantic or Eastern Pacific usually see many more named storms.
Hawaii is a small target in a vast ocean, and isn’t often threatened: Hawaii gets a named storm within 60 miles of its coastline about once every four years on average, forecasters say.
Lane could become a further rarity if its center crosses land. Only two hurricanes have made landfall in Hawaii since the 1950s: Hurricane Dot in 1959, and Hurricane Iniki in 1992.