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As Hurricane Lane draws closer, Hawaii's islands facing 'catastrophic' rainfall

As Hurricane Lane menaces the state of Hawaii, the islands may escape a direct hit, but it is rain that’s the concern.

The slow-moving system may bring “catastrophic” flooding and rainfall to the islands, the Weather Channel said. Oahu and Maui appear to be in the most imminent danger.

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On Hawaii Island, Hilo, which receives more rain than the Kailua Kona region, was especially hard-hit, receiving more than 30 inches in 24 hours.

Flight cancellations have begun. United has canceled flights in and out of Kahului on Maui, Hawaii News Now reported.

If you are scheduled to fly to Hawaii, check with your airline (a list of websites and phone numbers can be found here) for their cancellation terms.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority urged visitors not to show up at any airport without confirmed airline reservations.

Popular tourist attractions, including Pearl Harbor, have closed. Gov. David Ige has told travelers to plan to shelter in place in their hotels.

The hurricane, whose center was still offshore, lashed the Big Island, causing landslides and flooding. A wind gust of 67 mph was recorded at Kohala Ranch on the northern side of the Big Island.

The hurricane had weakened to a Category 2 by Friday, but the impact of such a storm, whose winds could reach 110 mph, could be devastating. Forecasters said the center of the storm would move close to or over parts of Hawaii's main islands late Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20 feet.

By 1 pm Friday, there were still hundreds of tourists at Waikiki's Kuhio Beach Park despite blowing sand, choppy surf and strong winds.

It wasn't an easy day for vacationers, who clogged sidewalks throughout Waikiki, but found almost nothing open. Most restaurants were closed, and the few mom-and-pops that had stayed open had long lines and one- to two-hour waits for food.

Path of Hurricane Lane as of 11 a.m. Pacific Time, 8 a.m. Hawaii Time Friday
Path of Hurricane Lane as of 11 a.m. Pacific Time, 8 a.m. Hawaii Time Friday (National Weather Service)

Besides dangerous winds and waves, the storm could bring 30 inches of rain to some places, causing widespread flooding and landslides.

The National Weather Service issued this update at 12:44 a.m. Pacific time Friday: The storm “along with damaging winds is expected to expand westward over the smaller islands later tonight through Saturday as Lane approaches and moves into the area. This will be a long-duration event with the potential for heavy rainfall continuing Sunday into early next week as Lane begins to track westward and away from the state.”

Ige had advised residents and visitors — he estimated about 270,000 travelers were on the islands — to ensure they have access to two weeks’ worth of food and water.

Despite repeated warnings to leave the beach, strollers were drawn to the sunset Thursday evening on Waikiki.
Despite repeated warnings to leave the beach, strollers were drawn to the sunset Thursday evening on Waikiki. (Rosemary McClure)

Closures

National parks on Hawaii and Maui are closed along with other attractions managed by the National Park Service. Among places that have closed:

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► The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Honolulu; Pearl Harbor Visitor Center there is closed until further notice.

►The Bishop Museum, the Honolulu repository of some of the islands’ most important pieces of history.

Public libraries in Hawaii, Kauai, Oahu and Maui counties and and the Waikiki Aquarium, according to Hawaii News Now.

Cruise, flights and roads

►Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America was supposed to have returned to Honolulu on Saturday but will now return on Sunday, spending an extra day at sea to try to steer clear of the storm. Its originally scheduled Saturday departure now will not occur until Monday, according to CruiseCritic.com.

If you were scheduled to board on that next sailing, you can stay on board on Sunday night. The ship will not leave until 7 p.m. Monday.

►Some flights between the mainland and Hawaii were still operating Friday morning. Check with your airline for details. You can find a list of airlines, websites and telephone numbers on the L.A. Times list.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation said Oahu’s Pali Highway Kailua/Kaneohe-bound lanes at Nuuanu Pali Drive would be closed from 8 p.m. Thursday until the “storm passes and the road is assessed for potential rockfall threat.”

►Also closing on Oahu: Kuhio Highway between Wainiha and Waikoko after 11 p.m. Thursday. The road will reopen, the DOT said, after crews check for any damage.

►On Hawaii Island, Bayfront Highway (Highway 19) in Hilo was closed Wednesday evening because of standing water.

►If you do not need to be on coastal roads or those that flood, the DOT asks that you not travel.

►Koalua Ranch, a private nature reserve known for ziplining and tours of movie sites such as “Jurassic Park” and “Godzilla,” on Oahu closed Thursday and Friday. The website says it plans to open Saturday.

7:30 a.m. Friday: This article was updated with information about the Pride of America’s delay and flight information.

11:25 a.m. Friday: This article was updated with information about the closing of Koalua Ranch on Oahu.

4:10 p.m. Friday: This article was updated with additional information about the strength of the storm and with the sunset photo.

6:43 p.m. Friday: This article was updated with additional information about tourists on Oahu.

The original article published at 7:45 a.m. Thursday.

Mary Forgione, Rosemary McClure and Catharine Hamm contributed to this report.

7:45 a.m.: This article was updated with new forecasts and rain totals.

This article was originally published at 11:05 a.m. Aug. 23.

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