HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –
Hurricane Lane has weakened slightly, but forecasters warn the massive Category 4 Central Pacific cyclone remains a threat to the entire island chain.
On Wednesday morning, a hurricane warning was issued for Maui County, while a hurricane watch was issued for Kauai County.
Meanwhile, Hawaii County remains under a hurricane warning, and Oahu is still under a hurricane watch.
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours, while a hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
At 5 a.m. Wednesday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Hurricane Lane weakened slightly into a Category 4 storm, packing maximum sustained winds near 155 mph with higher gusts.
Lane was centered about 315 miles south of Kailua-Kona — or 460 miles south-southeast of Honolulu — and moving near 9 mph.
On Tuesday night, Lane became one of only two recorded Category 5 hurricanes to pass within 350 miles of the Big Island’s South Point. The last: Hurricane John in 1994.
Forecasters said Lane had already started to turn to the west-northwest on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, it’s expected to turn northwest and then to the north-northwest on Thursday, bringing it “dangerously close” to the island chain.
The center of the storm is expected to move very close or over parts of the state Thursday through Saturday.
Hurricane-force winds extend 40 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
“Lane is forecast to move dangerously close to the main Hawaiian Islands as a hurricane Thursday through Saturday, potentially bringing damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding from heavy rainfall,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said, in its latest update.
Here are specifics on the potential hazards from the storm:
Strong winds: Tropical storm conditions are expected on the Big Island beginning late Wednesday night into early Thursday, with hurricane conditions expected in the warning area Thursday.
Tropical storm conditions are possible on Maui on Wednesday and on Oahu on Thursday; and hurricane conditions are possible late Thursday into Friday.
Rain: Torrential rains associated with Lane are expected to start affecting portions of the state from late Wednesday and continue through the weekend. Forecasters warn Lane is expected to produce rainfall totals of 10 to 15 inches, and up to 20 inches in some areas.
Surf: Large swells started rolling into the Big Island on Tuesday night. The rest of the island chain could see damaging surf Wednesday through Thursday.
A flash flood watch is in effect for all islands in anticipation of the heavy rainfall. The watch is in effect through Friday afternoon.
A high surf warning, meanwhile, is in effect for south-facing shores of the Big Island, while a high surf advisory has been issued for south-facing shores of all other islands.
The good news: Lane is forecast to slowly weaken over the next 48 hours, though it’s still expected to remain a hurricane as it nears the state.
Sea surface temperatures are helping Lane to remain strong.
Forecasters said water temperatures along the forecast track are about 82 degrees, warm enough to support a major hurricane. But a strengthening wind shear is expected to start weakening Lane.