'Plan for Worst and Hope for Best': Hawaii Braces for Massive Hurricane

Seawater erupted from a storm drain along Kalia Road in Waikiki on Monday

Seawater erupted from a storm drain along Kalia Road in Waikiki on Monday

The most powerful storm on record to hit Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki, a Category 4 storm that made landfall on Kauai island on September 11, 1992, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

U.S. weather authorities said Lane had weakened slightly to a Category 4-storm but was still packing maximum sustained winds of 130 miles (215 kilometers) per hour, threatening torrential rains, high winds and risky surf.

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.

Residents were stocking up on water, food and emergency supplies as Lane was tracking some 230 miles (370 kilometers) southwest of Kailua-Kona, a town on the west coast of the Big Island. It was classified as a powerful Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength.

It's expected to get dangerously close to the islands Thursday and lash the area until Saturday, forecasters said.

The massive storm is carrying with it 150-mile per hour winds and is one of the strongest to ever to come this close to the islands. Officials said they would open shelters on other islands when needed. It's a small island. Hurricane-force winds will extend up to 40 miles out from the storm's center; tropical-storm-force winds will extend up to 140 miles. Others have been filing up propane tanks and waiting in lines that circle around the block to get gas for their cars.

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The hurricane could dump up to 50 centimetres of rain in places, leading to warnings of flash flooding.

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.

Officials opened shelters on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai on Wednesday.

Another important threat is storm surge.

"So there is no other way for the forecasters to see what exactly is inside the storm and what's going on until we get there", US Airforce Hurricane Hunter Kimberly Spusta said.

"The combination of a unsafe storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels along south and west facing shores near the center of Lane", the hurricane center said. Conditions could trigger a weakening of Lane in the coming days but it would still pose danger as it's likely to remain a Category 1 cyclone.

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