Hawaii is preparing for a very rare event in the coming days – a hurricane. The islands in the Pacific don’t experience too many named storms and has never encountered a category 4 hurricane. That could sadly change as the scary powerful Hurricane Lane barrels down on the Aloha State.
As of early Wednesday morning, Hurricane Lane was about 480 miles southeast of Honolulu and was moving northwest at about 9 mph. The massive Pacific storm was a category 5 hurricane as late as 12 pm EST before being downgraded to a category 4. Lane was packing maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. Hurricane Lane has already become one of only two recorded Category 5 hurricanes to pass within 350 miles of the Big Island’s South Point. The other being Hurricane John in 1994.
Hurricane Lane is supposed to become less powerful the closer it gets to Hawaii, but the storm is still considered very dangerous. Besides the severe winds, Hawaiians could be plagued with a potential 20 inches of rain, flooding, storm surge, and landslides.
Forecasters and their weather models are not certain if Hurricane Lane will make landfall or not. If Hurricane Lane was to ratchet back up to a category 5 storm and make landfall, it would be the first category 5 hurricane to ever make landfall in Hawaii in history. Only two hurricanes and two tropical storms have made landfall in Hawaii since 1959, so this is an extremely rare occurrence, especially for a storm of this magnitude.
Hurricane watches and warnings are in effect for the Big Island, Oahu, Maui, and other smaller islands. The National Weather Service said tropical-storm-force winds could begin as early as Wednesday afternoon or evening on the Big Island.
“The center of Lane will track dangerously close to the islands Thursday through Saturday,” the National Weather Service’s Honolulu office reported. “Life-threatening impacts are likely in some areas as the hurricane makes its closest approach.”
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold showed just how gigantic Hurricane Lane is from the International Space Station.
Hurricane chasers and scientists flew into the eye of Lane when it was a category 5 storm.
Stores were packed with wise residents stocking up on life-saving supplies ahead of the monster hurricane.
Hawaii Governor David Ige urged citizens to prepare and plan for the storm. Ige also allowed non-essential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave from Wednesday to Friday.
“Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane,” Ige said in a statement. “I’ve not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I’ve seen with this storm. I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact.”
President Donald Trump shared a warning from FEMA.
Hurricane Iniki, a category 4 storm with 145 mph winds, made landfall on Kauai island in September of 1992. The hurricane killed six people and caused $1.8 billion in damage.