Hawaii Is About To Face Its First Major Storm In 25 Years — And It Could Be Devastating

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Hurricane Lane could become the first hurricane to make landfall on the Hawaiian islands since 1992, leading Donald Trump to declare a state of emergency in Hawaii on Wednesday. It is not yet clear exactly how Hurricane Lane will affect Hawaii or with what severity, but according to CBS News, forecasters have predicted that strong winds and torrential showers will hit the state, with the additional possibility of life-threatening flash floods and landslides.

On Wednesday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige encouraged the state's residents to prepare 14 days' worth of food, water, and supplies, CNN reported. During a press conference about Hurricane Lane, Ige also told reporters that government offices in Hawaii would be closed on Thursday and Friday as the storm approached.

The National Weather Service reported late Wednesday that rainfall on Hawaii's Big Island had already reached eight inches in 12 hours. According to CNN, Hurricane Lane is currently a Category 4 storm, with wind speeds ranging from 130 to 156 miles per hour. But while the storm may get slightly weaker as it gets closer to the Hawaiian islands, the National Weather Service reported that it will nonetheless remain a hurricane, with hurricane-force winds expected to extend up to 40 miles out from the storm's center.

Officials in Hawaii expect that roughly 4,000 to 5,000 residents will have to evacuate, CBS News reported. However, although officials have opened shelters on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Tom Travis is concerned that there is limited shelter space across the islands. Travis therefore urged residents who do not live in flood zones to stay at home.

According to The New York Times, Hurricane Lane was 210 miles south-southwest of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island as of Thursday morning, and 305 miles south of Honolulu. If it continues moving northwest at its current rate — about seven miles per hour — the Times reported that it may get extremely close to the islands of Maui, Moloka’i, and Oahu by Friday night.

In anticipation of the devastation that Hurricane Lane may cause, Ige signed an emergency proclamation earlier this week authorizing the use of state funds to respond to any potential damages and losses.

“This emergency proclamation allows us to line up services and necessary resources prior to the event so that we can keep our communities safe and running as efficiently as possible,” Ige stated in the proclamation. “Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane. I’ve not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I’ve seen with this storm. I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long told reporters on Thursday that Hawaii is definitely going to be impacted by Hurricane Lane, but to what extent depends on how close the storm gets. However, the state is nonetheless preparing for the worst. Buses have already been picking up Honolulu residents and driving them to shelters, public schools canceled classes, and many state employees were encouraged to stay at home, CNN reported.

Hurricane Lane could become the most powerful storm to hit Hawaii since Hurricane Iniki in 1992. There is still a "a lot of uncertainty" in forecasts about Hurricane Lane, according to Long, but it is expected to cause flooding rainfall and dangerous surf across multiple islands before weakening to a tropical storm at some point over the weekend.