Aug 22, 2018

Hurricane Warnings for Maui and Big Island, Watches for Oahu and Kauai as Lane Approaches

Hawaii
USA
by
Bob Henson
,
Weather Underground
Enhanced infrared image of Hurricane Lane at 0400Z Wednesday, August 21, 2018 (midnight Tuesday night EDT). The southernmost part of the Big Island is outlined in pink at top center. Credit: NOAA/NESDIS
Enhanced infrared image of Hurricane Lane at 0400Z Wednesday, August 21, 2018 (midnight Tuesday night EDT). The southernmost part of the Big Island is outlined in pink at top center. Credit: NOAA/NESDIS

Growing ever more organized on Tuesday night, Hurricane Lane reached Category 5 strength  as it continued rolling toward the Hawaiian Islands. A hurricane warning was issued at 5 pm HST (11 pm EDT) Tuesday for Hawaii’s Big Island, with watches extending from Maui to Oahu, including Honolulu and the islands of Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe. Watches and warnings will continue to evolve on Wednesday and beyond. Governor David Ige declared a state of emergency on Tuesday to facilitate rapid state response to the threat posed by Lane.

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Lane is extremely strong for its location. Only a handful of major hurricanes are known to have passed within striking distance of the Hawaiian Islands.

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There are no close analogs in modern hurricane history for Lane’s combined track and strength.

Hawaii’s hurricane experience is limited. Only two direct hurricane landfalls have been recorded in Hawaii, both on Kauai: Category 1 Dot in 1959 and catastrophic Category 4 Iniki in 1992. (While Category 1 Iwa in 1982 had major impacts in Kauai, its eye did not make landfall on the island.) This means that awareness and preparation procedures are not powered by habit and experience as they are in such places as Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas.

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The bottom line: It is still too soon to predict with confidence whether Lane will make landfall on one or more of Hawaii’s islands. A landfall will not be required for significant and possibly widespread impacts from torrential rains, landslides, and hurricane- or tropical-storm-force winds that could knock down trees and power lines and damage roofs.

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Wind damage and flash flooding from torrential rains are the main threats from hurricanes in the Hawaiian Islands. Storm surge is less of a threat compared to Atlantic hurricanes hitting the U.S. coast, since the Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by deep water that prevents a storm surge from building to large heights.