Monster Hurricane Lane unleashes torrential rain on Hawaii

Scramble for food and water as Hurricane Lane approaches Hawaii

Scramble for food and water as Hurricane Lane approaches Hawaii

Hurricane Lane was downgraded to a Category 3 storm as it lashed Hawaii on Thursday with high winds and torrential rains, touching off flash floods, landslides and raging surf as residents hunkered down to ride out the storm.

A vehicle is stuck partially submerged in floodwaters from Hurricane Lane rainfall on the Big Island on Thursday in Hilo, Hawaii.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but at least 14 roads had been closed due to flash floods and landslides, she said.

Hawaiians have been urged to buckle down with supplies as the island prepares to be hit by Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 cyclone. Some areas could see up to about 80 centimetres of rain.

At this point, Kauai, Honolulu, Maui, and Hawaii counties are under a state of emergency.

The hurricane's outer rain bands were bringing showers to some parts of the island, said Matt Foster, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

However, the NWS has said that the storm, which is more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) wide, will cause significant unsafe weather in Hawaii even if it only skirts the state.

The storm was in the Pacific about 285 miles south of the Big Island town of Kailua-Kona early Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. It is then predicted to move directly toward Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu.

While hurricanes are common along the Gulf Coast, the Eastern Seaboard and in the Caribbean, tropical cyclones are nearly unheard of in Hawaii.

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The Big Island is still reeling from recent volcanic eruptions, and forecasters warn the worst is still to come.

"The only concern is those that venture outside of the properties, that would like to hike on a day like this or who would like to still go into the ocean and see what it's like to take a swim or surf in these kind of waters", Hannemann said. Kauai is now under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 48 hours.

Glittering beaches have emptied, the usual bustle of windsurfers, sun worshipers and buskers replaced by sandbags and boarded windows.

People have been rushing to stores for supplies and are stocking up on canned foods, ramen, water and toilet paper. Others have been filling up propane tanks and waiting in lines that circle around the block to get gas for their cars. Almost 12 inches had already fallen on the Big Island by late Wednesday. "It's unpredictable, and we just don't know".

Authorities also warned that the shelters are not created to withstand winds greater than about 64km/h and that for most people they should be a "last resort".

Emergency workers rescued five people from a flooded house in Hilo after a nearby gulch overflowed, said Hawaii County managing director Wil Okabe.

President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration on Wednesday, authorising the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to co-ordinate disaster relief efforts with the state. Lane will be a weakening Category 1 storm as is makes its closest approach to the capital city of Honolulu on Saturday.

Ige revealed government offices would be closed Thursday and Friday as the storm approaches.

Hawaii has been told to brace for potentially life-threatening impact and people are preparing for lockdown as the centre of Hurricane Lane moves dangerously close to the islands. The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

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