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    Hurricane Lane, a Potential Hawaii Flood Disaster, May Pass Dangerously Close to Maui and Oahu, Including Honolulu, on Friday

    Hurricane Lane is unleashing torrential rain in parts of Hawaii and may produce disastrous rainfall flooding and landslides over much of the island chain, in addition to battering surf, coastal flooding and high winds through Saturday.
    This threat was summed up succinctly by The Weather Channel hurricane expert Dr. Rick Knabb in a tweet Thursday morning.
    A hurricane warning remains in effect for Maui County and Oahu, including Honolulu, meaning that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area.
    A tropical storm warning has been posted for the Big Island of Hawaii, which was previously under a hurricane warning. This means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
    A hurricane watch remains in effect for Kauai County. This means hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, and a watch is typically issued 48 hours before the onset of tropical-storm-force winds that may make preparations difficult or dangerous, according to Central Pacific Hurricane Center.The center of Lane is about 180 miles southwest of the Big Island’s Kona Coast or about 240 miles south of Honolulu, moving north-northwestward. Lane has weakened somewhat, but remains a powerful Category 3 hurricane.
    Lane’s outer rainbands are already drenching eastern portions of Hawaii, especially parts of the Big Island and Maui. Rainfall rates upwards of 1 to 2 inches per hour have been occurring in these bands. Three- to 4-inch-per-hour rain rates were recorded Thursday afternoon in upper Hilo and Papaikou on the Big Island.
    Over 19 inches of rain had been reported on the Big Island at Waiakea Experiment Station in the 24 hours ending midday Thursday local time. Hilo had seen more than 15 inches of rain in that same 24-hour period.
    Two-plus feet of rain had already fallen at a couple of locations on the windward side of the Big Island as of Thursday afternoon, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
    The heavy rain has caused road flooding on the Big Island, including in the city of Hilo, and landslides have occurred, blocking some roads.
    A water rescue was reported in Hilo Thursday afternoon, and at least one home was flooded in upper Hilo after the Wailuku River overflowed into a neighborhood.
    Heavy rain has also spread into Maui County, with reports of at least three road closures.
    Rainbands will continue to gradually overspread the rest of the Hawaiian Islands well ahead of Lane.
    Wind gusts over 30 mph are being reported over much of the island chain, with some sporadic gusts over 40 mph in higher terrain.
    The Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge wind gauge measured a 63-mph wind gust Thursday afternoon local time. However, the National Weather Service noted this is typically a very windy spot with significant downsloping even on days with light trade winds.
    A remote automated weather station at Kohala Ranch, upslope from Kawaihae on the Big Island, reported a wind gust to 55 mph late Thursday morning local time.
    A NOAA buoy located near the center of Lane reported peak sustained winds of 83 mph with a gust to 107 mph Thursday morning local time. Light winds were reported a short time later as Lane’s eye passed directly over the buoy.
     
    Lane’s forecast track and intensity still remain uncertain at this rather critical time, and small changes to its track and intensity are important for some potential impacts in the Hawaiian Islands.
    One impact from Lane won’t depend as much on its intensity or exact track, but rather may result from its slow forward speed in the form of heavy rainfall, as we’ll detail in our impacts section below.
    Lane is now moving north-northwestward as high pressure aloft is building to the east of the islands.
    Now, it’s a matter of when Lane makes a critical left-hand turn toward the west sometime late Friday or Saturday. 
    This depends on Lane’s intensity.
     

    Wind shear from west-southwesterly winds aloft is increasing over Lane, typically a factor that weakens hurricanes and tropical storms.

    If that wind shear acts quickly enough to disrupt the core of Hurricane Lane, it would take a hard left turn sooner, which would keep the core of Lane’s strongest winds south of the islands Friday and Saturday.

    If, however, wind shear doesn’t act quickly enough to sufficiently weaken Lane, it would remain steered northward longer, bringing its core of strongest, damaging winds dangerously close to Maui County, possibly Oahu County, Friday and Friday night.

    Adding to the complexity is the potential for Lane’s circulation to be disrupted by the higher terrain of the islands.

    Regardless of the track, flooding rainfall, battering waves and dangerous surf will occur.

    The bottom line: Lane could still be a hurricane near or off the coast of Maui County or Oahu on Friday, areas that are not accustomed to tropical storm or hurricane conditions.Residents in Hawaii, particularly in watch and warning areas, should rush storm preparations to completion, including putting together an emergency kit and a family emergency plan. Those with vacation plans to Hawaii through Saturday should consider changing their plans.

    • Regardless of the exact track, bands of heavy rain will hammer the Hawaiian Islands through Saturday.
    • These heavy rainbands may occur both well ahead of and for some time after the closest approach of the center of Lane.
    • Moist winds up the slopes of the hills and mountains on Lane’s northern and eastern flanks could lead to prolific rainfall, potentially unleashing deadly, destructive flash flooding and landslides.
    • According to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, isolated maximum rainfall totals of more than 30 inches are possible, particularly over south- and/or eastward-facing slopes.
    • At least tropical-storm-force winds (39 to 73 mph) are expected in most areas of the islands.
    • These tropical-storm-force winds are most likely to begin Thursday night in Maui County, late Thursday night in Oahu and on Saturday in Kauai County.
    • There is a chance of hurricane-force winds (74 mph or higher) in parts of the islands, particularly along the western or southern coasts.
    • Small changes in the track and intensity forecast will make the difference between the core of Lane’s strongest winds affecting at least parts of the islands or remaining offshore.
    • Regardless, the combination of heavy rain and strong winds could down more trees than strong winds alone.
      • Large swells generated by Lane will severely impact the Hawaiian Islands over the next couple of days.
      • Dangerous surf conditions and rip currents are expected, especially on exposed west- and southward-facing coasts, including those typically not accustomed to large waves, such as Waikiki Beach, Maui and the Kona Coast.
      • The surf could be damaging in spots.
      • Coastal flooding – possibly more locally significant storm-surge flooding if the core of Lane moves close enough – is also expected but depends on the exact track of Lane.
      • Water levels may rise by as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels along south- and westward-facing coasts near where the center of Lane passes, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

      Tornadoes

      • As always with hurricanes and tropical storms affecting land, a threat of waterspouts and tornadoes is in play, particularly in discrete cells embedded in outer rainbands.
      • Given these are embedded in Lane’s rainbands, they may develop quickly and move rapidly.
      • You may not be able to see a tornado before it arrives.
      • Take shelter immediately if the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for your area.

      Hawaii Hurricane History

      Lane is the strongest hurricane to track within 300 miles of Hawaii, according to NOAA’s historical database. While 1994’s Hurricane John had stronger maximum sustained winds, Lane’s lowest pressure was lower than John’s, and John only came within 319 miles from South Point on the Big Island.

      According to NOAA’s best track database, there is no record of a hurricane track within 65 nautical miles of either Maui or Honolulu since statehood.

      There have been three notable hurricanes that struck the western island of Kauai during that time: landfalls of Iniki in 1992 and Dot in 1959 and an eyewall brush with Iwa in 1982. 

      Three of the previous Category 5 central Pacific hurricanes occurred in 1994 during a hurricane season that featured a central Pacific flavor of El Niño called Modoki El Niño. Modoki El Niños occur when the warmest pool of water compared to average occurs in the central Pacific rather than in the eastern Pacific.

      Warmer water allows tropical cyclones to readily intensify. A Modoki El Niño opens the window for strong hurricanes in the central Pacific as long as atmospheric conditions such as wind shear and humidity are also favorable. 

      Check back with us at weather.com for the latest on Lane and its potential impacts in Hawaii.

      Recap of Lane So Far

      Lane formed as a tropical storm in the eastern Pacific on Aug. 15 and became a hurricane the next day.

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