Hawaiian Islands on alert for possible Hurricane Lane impacts

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On Tuesday morning, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, based in Honolulu, posted hurricane watches for the eastern Hawaiian Islands, including the Big Island and Maui, as tropical-storm force winds and heavy rain could effect those areas as soon as Wednesday or Thursday.

Forecasters have issued a hurricane warning for Hawaii island (also known as Big Island) and a hurricane watch for Oahu, Maui and other smaller islands that make up the archipelago.

Hurricane Lane, a powerful Category 4 storm in the Pacific Ocean, is a threat to the Hawaiian islands, forecasters say. Tropical storm conditions are possible within the Hurricane Watch area beginning Thursday into Thursday night, with hurricane conditions possible late Thursday night into Friday.

It isn't often that the islands are threatened by tropical systems, although the last storm of note was Madeline in 2016 which also caused hurricane watches and warnings to be issued for some islands. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations hard or risky. The rare storm, which reached Category 5 Tuesday before dropping back to a Category 4 Wednesday, is the closest a Category 5 hurricane has ever gotten to Hawaii.

Members of the Alapahoe outrigger canoe club move their canoes off the beach to higher ground as Hurricane Lane approaches Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S. August 21, 2018.

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A swell generated by Lane could bring very large and rough surf and unsafe rip currents for south- and southeast-facing shores, the weather service said.

The hurricane's current trajectory will take Hurricane Lane very close to the Big Island on Wednesday, with the expectation that it will have weakened to a category 3 hurricane. Lane is starting to make it's turn tonight towards Hawaii.

"The center of Lane will track dangerously close to the islands Thursday through Saturday", the advisory said.

Lane could become the first hurricane to directly make landfall in Honolulu since Hawaii became a state, Axios reported. All after-school activities statewide are cancelled for the rest of the week. It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands will be directly impacted.

Given the multiple hazards posed by the storm and the island chain's vulnerability, emergency management and local officials have pleaded with residents to prepare. It declares counties of "Hawai'i, Maui, Kalawao, Kaua'i and the City and County of Honolulu disaster areas for the goal of implementing emergency management functions", his office said. "Once the storm has passed and it is safe for our crews to begin restoration, we will work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power".

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