Residents of Hawaii awoke to a flurry of emergency alerts Wednesday morning as a major hurricane spun toward the state, threatening the entire island chain with heavy rains, damaging winds, and severe flooding.
Hurricane Lane had grown to a Category 5 storm Tuesday night, packing maximum sustained winds of 160 miles an hour, according to the National Weather Service. Lane then weakened to a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, but the hurricane still has winds of up to 155 miles an hour and remains the most powerful hurricane to threaten Hawaii in more than two decades.
“Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane,” David Ige, the Hawaii governor, said in a statement on Tuesday, as he signed an emergency proclamation that would mobilize state resources for disaster-relief efforts. “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.”
Lane began a northward churn toward Hawaii earlier this week. As of Wednesday, Hawaii’s Big Island is under a hurricane warning, which means that hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours, and Maui and Honolulu counties are under a hurricane watch, which means these conditions are possible. Lane is expected to weaken even further in the next 48 hours, but the storm will still bring dangerous weather conditions—including damaging winds, intense surf, and “life threatening” floods—to Hawaii from Wednesday to Saturday, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service.