Lane strengthens to a Category 5 hurricane as it nears Hawaii

UPDATED 9 p.m.

Hurricane Lane strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane this evening, according to the National Weather Service.

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Lane is moving toward the west-northwest near 9 mph, and this motion is expected to continue tonight. A turn toward the northwest is expected on Wednesday, followed by a turn to the north-northwest on Thursday.

On the forecast track, the center of Lane will move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands from Thursday through Saturday.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 160 mph, with higher gusts.

Slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Lane is forecast to remain a dangerous hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.

UPDATED 6 p.m.

Gov. David Ige today granted administrative leave for nonessential state employees in Hawaii and Maui counties, as the state prepares for severe weather conditions resulting from Hurricane Lane.

State offices on the Big Island and Maui will be closed Wednesday through Friday.

All University of Hawaii schools on the Big Island also will be closed Wednesday until further notice, the UH said in a news release.

Earlier today, Ige signed an emergency proclamation that will provide relief for disaster damages, losses and suffering caused by Hurricane Lane. The proclamation also serves to protect the health, safety and welfare of Hawaii residents and visitors, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The proclamation declares the counties of Hawaii, Maui, Kalawao, Kauai and the City and County of Honolulu disaster areas for the purpose of implementing emergency management functions. The proclamation also authorizes the expenditure of state monies as appropriated for the speedy and efficient relief of damages, losses, and suffering resulting from Hurricane Lane.

The emergency proclamation expires on Aug. 29, 2018.

UPDATED 4:24 p.m.

All public schools and state Department of Education offices on Hawaii Island and in Maui County will be closed Wednesday until further notice in anticipation of dangerous storm conditions from Hurricane Lane, the DOE said in a news release.

With emergency officials upgrading the severity of the storm’s impact to Hawaii Island and Maui County to a hurricane warning, county civil defense agencies urged HIDOE to close campuses as a safety precaution.

Also effective today, all after-school activities and programs, including interscholastic athletic events and After-School Plus (A+) Programs, are canceled statewide for the remainder of the week.

This will allow partner emergency agencies and organizations to stage evacuation shelters at designated schools. All school-related interisland travel this week is canceled as well, the DOE said.

UPDATED 2 p.m.

At 12:07 today the National Weather Service issued the following hurricane watch/warning statement:

Hurricane Lane is passing to the south-southeast of the Big Island today and is expected to begin a turn northwest toward the islands tonight and Wednesday. The center of Lane will track dangerously close to, or over the islands Thursday through Saturday. Regardless of the exact track of the center, major impacts are likely in some areas as the hurricane makes its closest approach. It is important to remember, these impacts can extend far from the center.

The onset of damaging tropical storm force winds on the Big Island could be as early as Wednesday afternoon or evening, with dangerous hurricane force winds possible by Wednesday night. On Maui County, damaging tropical storm force winds could begin as early as Wednesday night, with dangerous hurricane force winds possible starting on Thursday. Hurricane Watches may be needed for other areas as Lane draws closer.

Bands of intense showers and thunderstorms surrounding Lane will begin to overspread the state from south to north, reaching the Big Island late tonight or Wednesday morning. Excessive rainfall is possible which could lead to major flash flooding, landslides and mudslides. Flooding can occur even in areas not usually prone to flooding. Storm total rainfall amounts greater than 20 inches are possible.

Swell generated by Lane will bring very large and rough surf and dangerous rip currents for south and southeast facing shores.

Tornadoes and large waterspouts will be possible associated with Lane, mainly along and to the right of the track of the hurricane.

WIND IMPACTS

Prepare for life-threatening wind having possible extensive impacts across Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island. Potential impacts in this area include:

— Considerable roof damage to sturdy buildings, with some having window, door, and garage door failures leading to structural damage. Mobile homes severely damaged, with some destroyed. Damage accentuated by airborne projectiles. Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks.

— Many large trees snapped or uprooted along with fences and roadway signs blown over.

— Some roads impassable from large debris, and more within urban or heavily wooded places. Several bridges, causeways, and access routes impassable.

— Large areas with power and communications outages.

FLOODING IMPACTS

Prepare for life-threatening rainfall flooding having possible devastating impacts across the main Hawaiian islands. Potential impacts include:

— Extreme rainfall flooding may prompt numerous evacuations and rescues.

— Rivers and tributaries may overwhelmingly overflow their banks in many places with deep moving water. Small streams, creeks, canals, arroyos, and ditches may become raging rivers. In mountain areas, deadly runoff may rage down valleys while increasing susceptibility to rockslides and mudslides. Flood control systems and barriers may become stressed.

— Flood waters can enter numerous structures within multiple communities, some structures becoming uninhabitable or washed away. Numerous places where flood waters may cover escape routes. Streets and parking lots become rivers of raging water with underpasses submerged. Driving conditions become very dangerous. Numerous road and bridge closures with some weakened or washed out.

TORNADO IMPACTS

Prepare for a tornado event having possible limited impacts across the Hawaiian islands. Potential impacts include:

— The occurrence of isolated tornadoes can hinder the execution of emergency plans during tropical events.

— A few places may experience tornado damage, along with power and communications disruptions.

— Locations could realize roofs peeled off buildings, chimneys toppled, mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned, large tree tops and branches snapped off, shallow-rooted trees knocked over, moving vehicles blown off roads, and small boats pulled from moorings.

EVACUATIONS

Listen to local official for recommended preparedness actions, including possible evacuation. If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately.

For those not under evacuation orders, assess the risk from wind, falling trees, and flooding at your location. If you decide to move, relocate to a safer location nearby. If you do not relocate, help keep roadways open for those under evacuation orders.

If evacuating, leave with a destination in mind and allow extra time to get there. Take your emergency supplies kit. Gas up your vehicle ahead of time.

Let others know where you are going prior to departure. Secure loose items and pets in the car, and avoid distracted driving.

If evacuating, follow designated evacuation routes. Seek traffic information on roadway signs, the radio, and from official sources.

OTHER PREPAREDNESS INFORMATION

Now is the time to check your emergency plan and emergency supplies kit and take necessary actions to protect your family and secure your home or business.

When making safety and preparedness decisions, do not focus on the exact forecast track since hazards such as flooding rain, damaging wind gusts, storm surge, and tornadoes extend well away from the center of the storm.

If in a place that is vulnerable to high wind, such as near large trees, a manufactured home, upper floors of a high-rise building, or on a boat, plan to move to safe shelter.

If you live in a place particularly vulnerable to flooding, such as near the ocean or a large inland lake, in a low-lying or poor drainage area, in a valley, or near an already swollen river, plan to move to safe shelter on higher ground.

Always heed the advice of local officials and comply with orders that are issued. Do not needlessly jeopardize your life or the lives of others.

When securing your property, outside preparations should be concluded as soon as possible before conditions deteriorate. The onset of strong gusty winds or flooding can cause certain preparedness activities to become unsafe.

Be sure to let friends and family members know of your intentions for weathering the storm and your whereabouts. Have someone located away from the threatened area serve as your point of contact. Share vital contact information with others. Keep cell phones handy and charged.

Check on those who may not be fully aware of the situation or who are unable to make personal preparations.

If you are a visitor, know the name of the island on which you are staying and where it is relative to current watches and warnings. If staying at a hotel, ask the management staff about their onsite disaster plan. Listen for evacuation orders, especially pertaining to area visitors.

Closely monitor weather.gov, NOAA Weather Radio and local news outlets for official storm information. Listen for possible changes to the forecast.

There is a threat from tornadoes with this storm. Have multiple ways to receive Tornado Warnings. Be ready to shelter quickly.

UPDATE 8-21-18 noon: As of 11 a.m., the center of Hurricane Lane was 395 miles south-southeast of Hilo, 410 miles south-southeast of Kailua-Kona and 360 miles south-southeast of South Point. Maximum sustaned winds were 155 mph with higher gusts, and the storm took a turn to move west-northwest at 9 mph.

Tropical storm conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area beginning Wednesday night, with hurricane conditions possible on Thursday.

Large swells generated by Lane will impact the Hawaiian Islands, beginning tonight on the Big Island and spreading across the remainder of the island chain Wednesday through Thursday. These swells will produce large and potentially damaging surf along exposed west, south and east facing shorelines.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

A hurricane watch is in effect for the Big Island and Maui as islanders brace for potential effects from Hurricane Lane.

A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.

As of 8 a.m. today, Lane was about 420 miles south-southeast of Hilo, 450 miles south-southeast of Kailua-Kona and 390 miles south-southeast of South Point. Lane is an extremely strong Category 4 hurricane, bordering on Category 5, with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles an hour. The storm is moving west at 9 mph.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.

A turn toward the northwest is expected Wednesday into Thursday. On the forecast track, the center of Lane will pass close to Hawaii and Maui counties on Thursday and Thursday night.

Slight weakening is expected during the next couple of days, but Lane is forecast to remain a dangerous hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands.

Heavy rainfall associated with Lane is expected to affect portions of the Hawaiian Islands from Wednesday into the weekend, leading to flash flooding and landslides. Lane is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 15 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches over the Hawaiian Islands.

A flash flood watch is expected to be posted tomorrow at 6 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

In addition, large swells generated by Lane will impact the Hawaiian Islands this week. These swells will produce large and potentially damaging surf along exposed south and west facing shorelines.

A high surf advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. tonight for east facing shores of Hawaii and Maui.

Residents along affected shores should be alert for high and dangerous surf conditions. Boat owners, take measures to secure your vessel.

Whittington and Punaluu beach parks remain closed. All pavilion and camping permits for these parks have been cancelled.

South Point Road from the Kamaoa Road junction to South Point is closed to all through traffic and open to local residents only.

The Department of Education reports that all schools are open.

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Recommended items for a survival kit can be found on the American Red Cross website at www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/survival-kit-supplies.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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