THE US National Weather Service says Hurricane Lane has strengthened to become a Category 5 hurricane, which means that it is likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds 157km/h or above.
The hurricane was about 800km southeast of Honolulu at 8.30pm local time Tuesday night (4.30pm Wednesday AEST).
Perth Now has reported that the weather service says that in a Category 5 hurricane, a high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed. Roofs and walls will collapse. The winds will knock down trees and power poles. The service has warned that power outages will last for weeks to possibly months and most of an area hit by the hurricane will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
The weather service has issued a hurricane warning for Hawaii’s Big Island; a hurricane watch has also been issued for Maui and other smaller islands, meaning tropical storm-force winds, excessive rain and large swells could occur. It’s possible Oahu and Kauai may later be included in warnings.
Hurricane Lane “is forecast to move dangerously close to the main Hawaiian Islands later this week, potentially bringing damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding from heavy rainfall,” the weather service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center warned as it got closer to the state.
Hawaii Governor David Ige is allowing non-essential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave from Wednesday to Friday as the storm approaches.
The governor says employees on Hawaii and Maui islands who work in disaster response as well as in hospitals and prisons are required to report to their jobs.
There’s some uncertainty about the storm’s path, and residents are bracing for the worst.
“It is much too early to confidently determine which, if any, of the main Hawaiian islands will be directly impacted by Lane,” the weather service said.