Hurricane Lane soaked Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday, dumping a foot of rain in a matter of 12 hours as residents stocked up on supplies and tried to protect their homes ahead of the state’s first hurricane since 1992.
The National Weather Service warned that some areas could see up to 30 inches of rain before the system passes. Bands of heavy downpours rain extended 350 miles from the hurricane’s eye.
‘Even though the eye is south of the Big Island, we are seeing excessive rainfall already affecting the islands,’ weather service meteorologist Gavin Shigesato said from Honolulu.
Tropical storm conditions, with winds of 130mph, reached the Big Island, Hawaii’s easternmost major island, this morning.
As of 8am local time, the hurricane was 290 miles south of Honolulu and moving northwest at 7mph.
The Big Island is being pummeled by gusty winds and torrential rains on Thursday. Pictured: rising surf generated by Hurricane Lane crashes upon the Kailua Kona coastline
A car is partially submerged in floodwaters from Hurricane Lane rainfall on the Big Island on August 23 in Hilo, Hawaii
A man takes photos of floodwaters in Hilo. Hurricane Lane has brought more than a foot of rain to some parts of the Big Island, which is under a flash flood warning
Visitors watch the rising surf generated by Hurricane Lane crash upon the Kailua Kona coastline on Thursday
Hawaii state workers clean debris and open up streams around Honolulu, in preparation for heavy rainfall and flash flooding on Oahu on August 23
This image taken from NASA shows Hurricane Lane on August 23, 2018, as it heads to the Hawaiian Islands
This satellite image from NOAA shows Hurricane Lane near Hawaii on Thursday, August 23, and the The National Weather Service warned that some areas could see up to 30 inches before the system passes
This map from NOAA show’s Hurricane Lane’s projected trajectory for the next five days
The storm was expected to turn to the north later Thursday and into Friday, with little change expected in forward speed. The center could move close to or over portions of the main islands on Thursday or Friday. Then the storm will likely turn to the west Saturday and Sunday and pick up speed, forecasters said.
Steve Goldstein, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said at a news conference Thursday that Lane is expected to soak the Big Island before heading toward Maui and Oahu.
Goldstein said a direct strike is not needed to see a significant impact from such a strong hurricane.
Officials say more than 30 inches of rain is possible in some areas, which could mean flooding, dangerous surf of 20 feet, and a storm surge of up to 4feet above normal levels.
Federal officials said they were prepared to help people on the islands.
Brad Kieserman, of the Red Cross, said there were 16 emergency shelters open and 283 people across the island already in them.
US Navy ships and submarines based in Hawaii have been instructed to leave port to avoid damage.
All vessels not currently undergoing maintenance were being positioned to help respond after the storm, if needed.
Navy aircraft will be kept in hangars or flown to other airfields to avoid the storm.
Empty shelves of a supermaket are seen as residents of Oahu are re-stocking their water and non-perishable food supplies as preparation for the looming threat of Hurricane Lane in Oahu, Hawaii, on Wednesday
Loren, right, and Ruby Aquino, of Honolulu, load water into their car ahead of Hurricane Lane, Wednesday, August 22, 2018 in Honolulu. Hurricane Lane has weakened as it approaches Hawaii but was still expected to pack a wallop, forecasters said Wednesday
People stand in a line waiting to fill up propane tanks at a local hardware store on Wednesday in Honolulu
Aly Klein, right, and her mother Clarice Klein walks out of a local hardware store with several buckets of hurricane supplies on Wednesday
Unlike Florida or Texas, where residents can get in their cars and drive hundreds of miles to safety, people in Hawaii are confined to the islands and can’t outrun the powerful winds and driving rain.
Instead, they must stay put and make sure they have enough supplies to outlast prolonged power outages and other potential emergencies.
‘Everyone is starting to buckle down at this point,’ said Christyl Nagao of Kauai. ‘Our families are here. We have businesses and this and that. You just have to man your fort and hold on tight.’
Living in an isolated island state also means the possibility that essential goods can’t be shipped to Hawaii if the storm shuts down ports.
‘You’re stuck here and resources might not get here in time,’ Nagao said.
Shelters opened Wednesday on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Officials urged those needing the Molokai shelter to get there soon because of concerns that the main highway on the island’s south coast could become impassable.
On the island of Oahu, which was put on a hurricane warning late Wednesday, shelters were scheduled to open Thursday. Officials were also working to help Hawaii’s sizeable homeless population, many of whom live near beaches and streams that could flood.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Tom Travis said there’s not enough shelter space statewide and advised people who were not in flood zones to stay home.
Authorities also warned that the shelters are not designed to withstand winds greater than about 40mph and that for most people they should be a ‘last resort.’
‘Whenever possible, the public should plan to shelter in place or stay with family or friends in homes outside of these hazard areas that were designed, built or renovated to withstand anticipated conditions,’ the city and county of Honolulu said in a statement.
Public schools were closed for the rest of the week and local government workers were told to stay home unless they’re essential employees.
This satellite image provided by NOAA on Thursday, August 23, 2018 shows Hurricane Lane bearing down on Hawaii from the south
A handout image made available by NASA on 22 August 2018 and taken by an Expedition 56 crew member from the International Space Station shows Hurricane Lane in the Central Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii, August 22, 2018
‘We’re planning on boarding up all our windows and sliding doors,’ Napua Puaoi of Wailuku, Maui, said after buying 16 pieces of plywood from Home Depot. ‘As soon as my husband comes home – he has all the power tools.’
Molokai real estate agent Pearl Hodgins said she expected the island’s two stores to soon run out of bottled water and batteries.
Melanie Davis, who lives in a suburb outside Honolulu, said she was gathering canned food and baby formula.
‘We’re getting some bags of rice and of course, some Spam,’ she said of the canned lunch meat that’s popular in Hawaii.
She was organizing important documents into a folder – birth and marriage certificates, Social Security cards, insurance paperwork – and making sure her three children, all under 4, have flotation devices such as swimming vests – ‘just in case.’
Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier said Lane may drop to a Category 3 by Thursday afternoon but that would still be a major hurricane.
‘We expect it to gradually weaken as it gets closer to the islands,’ Chevalier said. ‘That being said, on our current forecast, as of the afternoon on Thursday, we still have it as a major hurricane.’
The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992. Others have come close in recent years.
Hurricanes are ranked 1 to 5 according to what is known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Lane is at Category 4, with winds from 130 to 156mph.
President Donald J. Trump issued a disaster declaration Wednesday, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate disaster-relief efforts with the state.
The ABC store in the lobby of the King Kamehameha Marriot, is boarded up and secured in preparation for the approaching storm, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on Wednesday