Hurricane Lane strengthens to Category 5 as it heads toward Hawaii

  • Hurricane Lane strengthens to Category 5 as it heads toward Hawaii

Hurricane Lane strengthens to Category 5 as it heads toward Hawaii

Hurricane Lane is now at Category 5, the National Weather Service said Tuesday, as the storm moved closer to Hawaii.

With maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour, Lane was upgraded to the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale as it surged westerly across the Pacific Ocean toward the Big Island.

The National Park Service says Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau and Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Parks will be closed Wednesday and Thursday in anticipation of high surf, heavy winds, and rain. Roofs and walls will collapse.

West Hawaii could begin to feel the effects of Hurricane Lane as early as this evening as the powerful storm closes in on the state.

Hurricane Watch issued for Oahu and Kauai. But the center of the storm, carrying maximum winds of around 160 miles per hour (257 km/h), is expected to move "dangerously close" to the main Hawaiian Islands Thursday through Saturday (Aug. 23 to Aug. 25), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

As Hurricane Lane hurtles toward Hawaii, images captured from space show the full extent of the massive storm.

According to the Weather Underground website, "it's uncommon for a hurricane to draw close to the Hawaiian Islands, and even more rare for one to pose a direct landfall threat, much less a hurricane this strong". It is no moving west-northwest which brings the storm closer to the islands.

A turn toward the northwest is expected Wednesday into Thursday.

'Latest forecast models indicate that, regardless of the eventual track and intensity of Lane, an extremely moist air mass will move over the islands beginning around Wednesday, and then persist through the end of the week, ' forecasters said.

A Hurricane warning was in effect for all Hawaii County and Maui county, including the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe. Employees on Hawaii and Maui islands who work in disaster response as well as in hospitals and prisons are required to report to their jobs, the governor said.

The Big Island is still reeling from a three-month eruption of Kilauea volcano, which forced thousands of residents to evacuate their homes and engulfed hundreds of structures in lava. It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands will be directly impacted.

"At this time, it looks like maybe Puna will be spared", county Managing Director Wil Okabe said of the beleaguered, rural district.

Hawaii Public Radio has a rundown of emergency phone numbers and guides for Hawaii residents preparing for the storm.

"Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane", Hawaii Gov. David Ige said in a statement. "Remember, if the power goes out, ATMs aren't going to be working".