US President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency in Hawaii as residents brace for powerful Hurricane Lane to make landfall.
Hawaii residents have stocked up on emergency supplies and are preparing to evacuate to shelters as the state’s first hurricane since 1992 dumped 30cm of rain in as many hours.
Hurricane Lane will move “dangerously close” to Hawaii, and will bring about damaging tropical winds, extremely heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding from Friday through Sunday (AEST), according to the National Weather Service.
It warned that some areas could see up to 76cm before the system passes. Bands of rain extended 563km from the hurricane’s centre.
The category 4 storm – the second-strongest wind scale intensity – could be the most destructive storm to hit Hawaii in two decades, as weather forecasters predict the storm’s centre may come into contact with land as it travels past several islands with winds exceeding 210km/h.
As of 4am (AEST), the hurricane was 540km south of Honolulu and moving north west.
“Regardless of the exact track of the storm centre, life-threatening impacts are likely over some areas as this strong hurricane makes its closest approach”, the National Weather Service said.
Hurricane Lane will cause widespread devastation, Federal Emergency Management Agency boss Brock Long told reporters on Thursday (Wednesday local time).
“It’s not a question of whether they’re going to be hit or not … they’re going to see impacts from this storm,” Mr Long said.
Mr Trump urged Hawaiians to hunker down and prepare for the storm, while the US Navy said it was deploying some of its Hawaii-based ships and submarines to avoid getting trapped when Hurricane Lane hits.
Many store shelves have been emptied across Hawaii, as residents quickly stocked up on essentials such as water, toilet paper, flashlights and even candles.
Universities, schools, shops, sporting events and business across Hawaii have closed their doors before the storm.
The hurricane, which is predicted to gradually weaken during the next 48 hours, is moving northwest at about 13 km/h and will bring about rain accumulations and a sea level rise of more than a metre.
The areas that will be most affected by Hurricane Lane include the Hawaiian island of Oahu and the state’s Hawaii County and Maui County.
A state of emergency has been declared for the largest Hawaiian island known as the Big Island.
“Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane,” Governor David Ige said in a statement.
“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.”
Other areas that will possibly experience the ravaging effects of Hurricane Lane include Kauai County and its islands Kauai and Niihau.
US President Donald Trump strongly advised residents to listen to official warnings.
“Everyone in the path of #HurricaneLane please prepare yourselves, heed the advice of State and local officials, and follow @NWSHonolulu for updates. Be safe!” Mr Trump tweeted.