Lane still a Category 4 hurricane as it creeps closer toward Hawaii isles

Rain lashed Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday as Hurricane Lane barreled through the Pacific Ocean as a Category 4 storm, threatening to be the first hurricane to make landfall on the islands since 1992.

Even if it does not make landfall, the National Weather Service warned, the storm could bring “life-threatening impacts,” including hurricane-force winds, torrential rain and flash flooding. The storm’s outer rain bands had put much of the eastern part of the Big Island of Hawaii under a flash flood warning by Thursday morning, and one site in Hilo had already recorded more than 18 inches of rain.

Officials warned that the unpredictable track of the hurricane left much of the state potentially vulnerable.

“Hawaii is going to be impacted by Hurricane Lane, the question is how bad,” said Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “We’re extremely concerned about the potentials for inland flooding, landslides occurring, and damage to the transportation, communications infrastructure.”

Although its wind speed, forward speed and heading have not changed since 5 a.m., Hurricane Lane is now closer to both Honolulu and Kailua-Kona.

Located about 329 km southwest of Kailua-Kona and 466 km south of Honolulu, Lane was moving northwest at 7 mph at 8 a.m., according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 56 km from Lane’s center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 225 km.

Lane was expected to bring tropical storm and hurricane-force winds to parts of Hawaii, with up to 30 inches of rain in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

President Trump issued an emergency declaration for the state on Thursday morning, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts.