Hurricane Lane isn’t expected to bring tropical storm or hurricane force winds to Hawaii until later Thursday, but the storm is already pounding the Big Island—and other islands are bracing for impact.
In the past 12 hours, parts of the Big Island have seen more than 12 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service’s Honolulu station. And country officials say there have already been multiple landslides on the island.
That’s likely to increase as Lane has lessened in intensity slightly (it is now a Category 4 storm, down from a Category 5 Wednesday), but it is also a slow moving event, which forecasters worry will result in “life-threatening” flash flooding and landslides over all Hawaiian islands.
Flash flood warnings are currently in effect for large swaths of the Big Island.
“Excessive rainfall associated with Lane will impact the Hawaiian Islands into the weekend, leading to significant and life-threatening flash flooding and landslides,” wrote the National Weather Service. “Lane is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches, with localized amounts in excess of 30 inches over the Hawaiian Islands.”
Lane is expected to run parallel to the Big Island by 8 p.m. HST (2 a.m. ET) and continue to do so for 12 hours. The latest tracking model from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center no longer shows a direct hit on the Big Island within the cone of uncertainty, but several other islands are now at risk for a direct impact, depending on the storm’s course. The most populated island of Oahu is now under a hurricane warning.
The storm’s projected path has shifted slightly to the west, though forecasters are warning islanders to be prepared for a strike. Regardless, they say, Lane will still have a dramatic effect on the islands.
As of 11 a.m. ET Thursday, the storm had sustained winds of 130 mph, making it a Category 4 storm, but just barely. (140 mph is the minimum sustained wind for that ranking on the Saffir-Simpson scale.)
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.