Hawaii braces for 'life threatening' hit from Hurricane Lane

Bryce and Dom Boeder of Waimea, Kauai, load their truck with storm supplies in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Lihue, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018.

- All public schools and DOE offices in Hawaii and Maui counties will be closed today until further notice, according to the state Department of Education.

It's possible that the center tracks close enough for the storm's core of violent thunderstorms to hammer the islands, especially their south sides, with tremendous rainfall and destructive winds, reaching hurricane force.

While Lane's strength is expected to weaken slightly upon its approach to the Hawaiian islands, it was still expected to remain a unsafe hurricane.

Rainfall of 20in (51cm) in some areas could lead to major flash flooding, landslides and mudslides, the NHC said.

The US Central Pacific Hurricane Center on Wednesday downgraded Hurricane Lane to a Category 4, the second-strongest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of wind intensity.

The weather service in a special statement said tropical-storm-force winds could begin as early as Wednesday afternoon or evening on the Big Island.

National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye said the storm was 320 miles southeast of Hilo shortly before 5:30 a.m. local time and that it was moving northwest at about 9 mph.

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Tropical-storm-force winds could arrive on Wednesday in the Big Island, and in the smaller islands by Thursday or Friday.

The proclamation declares the counties of Hawaii, Maui, Kalawao, Kauai and the City and County of Honolulu disaster areas for the goal of implementing emergency management functions.

Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier in Honolulu says winds slowed overnight from 160 miles per hour to 155 miles per hour (259 to 250 kph), prompting a downgrade of the hurricane from a Category 5 to a Category 4.

"Hurricane Lane is a very serious storm that has the potential to do damage and cause harm", said Tom Travis, who heads the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

Lane, which strengthened temporarily to a Category 5 storm on Tuesday, poses a threat to life according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC).

"Even if the center of Lane were to remain offshore, it is important to remember that impacts from a hurricane can extend well away from the center". These swells will produce large and potentially damaging surf along exposed west, south and east facing shorelines.

Kauai resident Mike Miranda was 12 when Hurricane Iniki devastated the island 26 years ago.

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