Hawaii residents brace themselves as hurricane strengthens

Hawaii residents brace themselves as hurricane strengthens

Hawaii residents brace themselves as hurricane strengthens

Images captured by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the Category 4 storm swirling towards Hawaii with sustained winds around 155 miles per hour that could cause catastrophic damage.

A hurricane warning is in place for Hawaii County on the Big Island, while a hurricane watch is in effect over Maui County and all of Oahu, according to the National Weather Service.

Hurricane Lane has strengthened into a Category 5 storm as it rolls toward Hawaii - just two weeks after Hurricane Hector passed the islands. Roofs and walls will collapse, and the winds will knock down trees and power pole.

Damaging tropical storm force winds could begin as early as Wednesday night in Maui County, with unsafe hurricane force winds possible starting Thursday, the weather service said. A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible for the area within 48 hours.

The storm could potentially bring "damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding from heavy rainfall" to the islands, the Hurricane Center warned.

WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected within the Hurricane Warning area beginning late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, with hurricane conditions expected somewhere within the warning area on Thursday.

A swell generated by Lane could bring very large and rough surf and risky rip currents for south- and southeast-facing shores, the weather service said. "Although we are not yet in a watch or warning, the current forecasted track of Hurricane Lane is concerning and I am urging all residents and visitors to prepare themselves".

State offices on Hawaii Island and Maui will be closed Wednesday through Friday, as the governor announced that nonessential state employees in the two counties will be put on administrative leave.

Also effective Wednesday, all after-school activities and programs including interscholastic athletic events and After-School Plus (A+) Programs are canceled statewide for the remainder of the week.

Even if the centre of Lane doesn't make landfall, the islands could be walloped with rain and wind.

The last hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii was Iniki in 1992, which struck Kaua'i.

Workers at stores throughout the islands say they're bracing for an afternoon rush of people getting supplies. It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands are directly impacted.

"If you're in the path of #HurricaneLane, get ready now and make sure your family and neighbors do as well", the Federal Emergency Management Agency tweeted Wednesday. It declares counties of "Hawai'i, Maui, Kalawao, Kaua'i and the City and County of Honolulu disaster areas for the objective of implementing emergency management functions", his office said.

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