The State of Hawaiʻi announced on August 21 at 5:20 p.m. that all government offices and facilities in Maui and Hawaiʻi Island (Big Island) counties are closed starting Wednesday, August 22, due to the threat of Hurricane Lane, a category 4 storm now on track to move dangerously close the islands.
After hitting the Big Island, the storm is expected to churn north over the islands of Maui, Lanai and Moloka'i, which were all under hurricane and flash flood watches.
While the storm has gained strength over the past day and is only 7 mph shy of Category 5 strength, the Hurricane Center predicts it to begin slowly weakening over the next 24 hours due to increasing wind shear, which would disrupt thunderstorm development. Roofs and walls will collapse.
The extremely powerful Hurricane Lane is closing in on Hawaii, where heavy rain, strong winds and risky surf are expected Thursday into the weekend. The service has warned that power outages will last for weeks to possibly months and most of an area hit by the hurricane will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
More hurricane watches were expected to be issued for other Hawaiian islands, said the Honolulu-based hurricane center.
A slow weakening of Lane is expected over the next two days but the system is expected to remain a unsafe hurricane as it draws nearer to the islands, the weather service said.
Though the storm's center is expected to remain offshore, officials are urging residents islandwide to be prepared as Lane approaches the Hawaiian Islands.
"The center of Lane will track dangerously close to the islands Thursday through Saturday", the advisory said.
"It's a strong and risky storm- make sure to listen to your community's emergency managers and stay prepared and safe", said Lisa Bucci, a scientist on NOAA's Hurricane Hunter. These are two of of only ten tropical cyclones on record to make landfall on one of the islands.
"A lot of people are comparing the similarities between Iniki and Lane", Kauai resident Mike Miranda told the AP.
In addition, large swells generated by Lane will impact the Hawaiian Islands this week. The storm's path is still far from certain, with the National Hurricane Center's cone of uncertainty still showing a wide swath from Thursday onward. But early indications showed that the south end of the island up to the western side would be taking the brunt of the storm. Coastal evacuations are possible, the weather service said.
He reminded people to have emergency kits ready and to "withdraw cash". He planned to call in more workers to cope with an expected afternoon rush.
Hawaiian Airlines is waiving change fees for tickets to, from, within and through Hawaii from Tuesday through Sunday.
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