Hawaii residents are bracing as Hurricane Lane slowly neared the islands Thursday.
Lane, a Category 4 storm moving northwest at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, will have its center “move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands” Thursday through Friday, the National Weather Service said Wednesday night local time.
Oahu island, which includes the capital Honolulu and most of the state’s population, is under a hurricane warning, along with Maui County and Hawaii County. A hurricane watch is in effect for Kauai County.
The National Weather Service in Honolulu reported rainfall on the Big Island already reaching 8 inches in 12 hours late Wednesday.
Lane is expected to remain a hurricane “as it approaches the islands,” according to the agency. Hurricane-force winds will extend up to 40 miles out from the storm’s center; tropical-storm-force winds will extend up to 140 miles.
“We still are expecting wind, rain, flooding effects that would affect statewide. We want to assure you that federal state and county emergency responders are working in coordination to keep the community safe,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Wednesday.
State officials opened shelters on Wednesday with more opening on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
Hawaii has had warnings about hurricanes before, though the last storm with significant damage was Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Officials are concerned that people have been complacent about preparations.
Davelle Finau of Oahu says she’s not too concerned about the storm.
“Filling up [the] tank and stuff. Where you going to go with a full tank of gas? It’s a small island. You’re just going to go up the mountain and come right back down,” Finau told NPR’s Adrian Florido.
Even so, many residents are following recommendations to stock two weeks’ worth of supplies. Grocery stores have been packed, and some gas stations have had long lines, Adrian says.
Tropical storm and hurricane conditions will occur over the course of the day Thursday on the Big Island and in Maui County, while Oahu will see those conditions Thursday night into Friday.
Rain is expected to accumulate to 10 to 20 inches and more than 30 inches in certain areas, the NWS said.
The governor’s office said Wednesday that a presidential disaster declaration was approved for the state, which enables the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to take certain actions.
Park closures in much of the state go into effect Thursday. Public schools and some highways will be closed as well.
The governor said commercial harbors would also close and ordered boats to leave before the storm. “This is because the harbors are our lifeline to essential food and products,” he said on Twitter.
Authorities warned residents on the coasts to be especially cautious — the weather service said large waves and a storm surge would mean water levels 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels in certain shores facing south and west.
The weather service said some shorelines are likely to face “significant coastal erosion” because of “very large and damaging surf.”
FEMA warned residents on shores to secure their boats and watch for salt damage to windows and doors, among other tips.
You are one of the CPR readers who wants to know what is really going on these days. We can help you keep up - The Lookout is a free, daily email newsletter with news and happenings from all over Colorado. Sign up here and we will see you in the morning!