Hurricane Lane Strengthens To Category Five, Updated Closures

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The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday that includes Maui County with Hurricane Lane expected to turn toward the Hawaiian Islands later this week and "come dangerously close to or over the islands".

After hitting the Big Island, the storm is expected to churn north over the islands of Maui, Lanai and Moloka'i, which were all under hurricane and flash flood watches.

Hurricane Lane has grown to a category 5 storm as it approaches Hawaii with potential for torrential rain, flash flooding and landslides, forecasters said. Roofs and walls will collapse, and the winds will knock down trees and power pole. But the center of the storm, carrying maximum winds of around 160 miles per hour (257 km/h), is expected to move "dangerously close" to the main Hawaiian Islands Thursday through Saturday (Aug. 23 to Aug. 25), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hurricane watches are in effect for Maui, Oahu, and other small islands.

Without a direct impact by the center - or near center - of the storm, the islands will still expect tropical storm conditions from the hurricane as it most likely passes south of the island chain.

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

KHNON2 reporters warned viewers that hurricane experts had flown into the storm yesterday evening (6.30 HST) in order to determine the strength of the hurricane.

State offices on Hawaii Island and Maui will be closed Wednesday through Friday, as the governor announced that nonessential state employees in the two counties will be put on administrative leave.

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Camera IconThis NASA image obtained on August 20, 2018 shows Hurricane Lane when NASA's Aqua satellite passed overhead in mid-August 2018.Picture: AFP, NASA.

Even if the centre of Lane doesn't make landfall, the islands could be walloped with rain and wind. The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane watch for parts of Hawaii. All after-school activities statewide are cancelled for the rest of the week.

Workers at stores throughout the islands say they're bracing for an afternoon rush of people getting supplies.

The long and short of it: It's still too soon to know the impacts, if any, the storm will have on any of the islands.

"At this time, it looks like maybe Puna will be spared", county Managing Director Wil Okabe said of the beleaguered, rural district.

Officials were urging residents across the islands to prepare. Honolulu, the state's largest city and capital, is on the island of O'ahu.

With the storm's impending arrival, Judy Donovan, spokeswoman for Kona Community and Kohala hospitals, said staff has been working to ensure both facilities are ready should people need care.

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