Drenching rain hits Hawaii's Big Island as Hurricane Lane approaches
24 August, 2018, 01:28
Oahu and Kauai County - including Kauai and Niihau islands - have a hurricane watch in place.
Hurricane Lane has weakened as it approaches Hawaii but was still expected to pack a wallop, forecasters said Wednesday.
A National Weather Service spokesman said: "The centre of Lane will move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands from Thursday through Saturday".
Lane - classified as a powerful Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength - was expected to hit the Big Island overnight and slam the island of Maui on Thursday, according to the service. Forecasters predict the storm's risky center could move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands later Thursday or Friday.
Lane is traveling northwest at 7 miles per hour and has maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.
"I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact", the governor said at a news conference in the state capital, Honolulu.
There are fears the extreme weather will trigger deadly flooding and landslides as the storm bears down on the islands.
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Officials opened shelters on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai on Wednesday.
Forecasters say the storm threatens to bring risky winds, landslides to Hawaii with ocean water and heavy rain causing major flooding. The last one of this size was Iniki back in 1992.
Thao Nguyen, 35, who works at a clothes shop in Honolulu, said: "I went to Safeway last night for regular groceries, everyone was in a panic".
Cars waited in long lines at gasoline stations in Honolulu and people could be seen pulling small boats from the water ahead of Lane's expected storm surge.
People have been rushing to stores for supplies and are stocking up on canned foods, ramen, water and toilet paper.
President Trump declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as meteorologists predict heavy rain may cause flooding, down trees and cut power as the slow-moving storm unleashes it's power Thursday and Friday.
The president ordered federal assistance to aid the state and local response efforts to Hurricane Lane, which strengthened as it approached Hawaii.
Trump had earlier urged Hawaiians to hunker down and prepare for the major storm, while the US Navy said it was deploying some of its Hawaii-based ships and submarines to avoid getting trapped when Lane hits. A government report on that storm recorded six people dead and more than 100 injured.
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Maui County and Big Island schools will be closed starting Wednesday until further notice, the state Department of Education said. "On its forecast track, the center of Lane will move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands from Thursday Saturday".
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