Airlines are relaxing change fees and beaches and tourist attractions are closing as the state of Hawaii braces for the arrival of Hurricane Lane, a powerful storm set to veer toward the islands starting Thursday, the National Weather Service says.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu said the Category 4 storm — 280 miles south of Hawaii Island, as of 8 a.m. PDT — said the “center of Lane will track dangerously close to the Hawaiian Islands from Thursday through Saturday.”
The hurricane is expected to pass southwest of Hawaii Island Thursday afternoon, with winds in excess of 110 miles per hour. By the time it reaches Maui, Molokai and Lanai early Friday, the winds are forecast to have weakened to between 74 and 110 mph.
Heavy rain is also predicted, with the threat of flash flooding. “Regardless of the exact track of the storm center, life threatening impacts are likely over some areas as this strong hurricane makes it's [sic] closest approach,” the hurricane center said.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Hurricane watches have been posted for Oahu, including the popular Waikiki Beach, and Kauai.
As a result of the impending storm, airlines are allowing fliers to change their plans without the usual penalties.
Hawaiian Airlines’ travel advisory said customers with seats on flights through Sunday will be able to rebook flights for travel until Sept. 9 without incurring a change fee or increase in fare.
United Airlines announced the same policy.
Parks and beaches
Haleakala National Park on Maui is set to close 4 p.m. Wednesday and remain closed Thursday and Friday. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island, much of which has been closed because of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano, will close its Kahuku Unit at 4 p.m. Wednesday. It will stay closed Thursday and Friday.
Tours to the USS Arizona Memorial have been suspended. The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument’s Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Honolulu is closing noon Wednesday.
All beach parks on Hawaii Island, from South Point north to Kohala, will be closed until further notice. Camping permits for the parks have been canceled.
On Maui, the county’s Emergency Management Agency warned that high surfs of 8 to 12 feet will affect south-facing waters beginning Wednesday afternoon. It said strong waves and rip currents will make swimming “difficult and dangerous.”
Good websites to check for Hurricane Lane updates and information: