24 Aug 2018

Hawaii braces as category 4 hurricane bears down

7:50 am on 24 August 2018

Hawaii is bracing for the most powerful storm to reach the islands in 25 years.

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Photo: NOAA

The category four Hurricane Lane is set to track past the islands this weekend, bringing heavy rain, surges and possible flash flooding.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm is generating winds of up to 215 km/h near its centre but it is expected to weaken over the next 48 hours as it brushes past Hawaii.

Emergency preparations are now underway, with schools, government offices and businesses closed as the full force of the hurricane is expected to be felt over the next 24 hours.

A spokesperson for Hawaii's emergency management agency, Richard Rapoza, told Morning Report he had never seen a storm like this approach Hawaii.

He said that was worrying many residents.

"We get a lot of near misses and so people kind of pooh-pooh it in the early stages but in the past couple of days as people have seen the maps and the projections getting very very close people have got very serious about preparing in terms of putting wood over their windows and also getting the food and supplies they need," said Richard Rapoza.

United States President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency for Hawaii.

Federal assistance will now be provided to help state and local governments as they brace themselves, particularly in the northern group of islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe.

"We encourage all those in the path of the storm to listen to the instruction of state and local authorities as it relates to evacuation orders and shelter locations," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a briefing.

There are already reports of flooding and landslips on the Big Island of Hawaii which is being buffeted by heavy rain from Hurricane Lane which continues to edge closer to the islands from the south.

National Weather Service forecaster Maureen Pollard said as of 5am this morning local time Hurricane Lane was located 490 kilometres south of Honolulu and moving to the Northwest at 11 kilometres an hour.

She said it was still too early to tell if the storm would make landfall on any of the Hawaiian Islands.

"We are certainly seeing effects in the islands already. We have had a lot of flooding going on on the Big Island since yesterday afternoon and the centre of the storm is still south of the Big Island but as we know the outer bands do extend quite a ways from the system," said Maureen Pollard.

"That is why we are already seeing heavy rain, there is a buoy that it has moved over not too long ago and that buoy has reported winds in excess of 50 knots."

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told Hawaii News Now "Some people might say, 'another hurricane, it didn't hit us last time, we don't need to worry,' "No, we got to plan for the worst and hope for the best."

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