Hawai’i hunkers down, collecting emergency supplies for 'Slow-Moving' Hurricane
Airliners are packed full of tourists escaping what Weather Channel meteorologist Rick Knabb calls a “slow-moving” hurricane, while emergency workers and journalists grabbed those same seats heading to Honolulu, Kahului and Hilo to be ready for what’s anticipated to be the first hurricane to strike Hawai’i in 26 years.
In the meantime, public and private entities and residents are all preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best, as they look down the barrel of Hurricane Lane.
The Category 4 storm is the first anticipated to inflect a direct hit on the Aloha State since Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which caused $3 billion in damage and killed six people. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center reported that Lane, with sustained wind speeds of 130 MPH, is headed on a northwesterly course toward Kailua-Kona on the Big Island and Honolulu on O’ahu. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Hawai’i Island, Mau’i and Oah’u--including Honolulu--while a hurricane watch is in effect for Kaua’i County.
Knabb Tweeted, “I despise slow-moving tropical cyclones, and #Lane will be another one for the next 2-3 days.”
Dr. Rick Knabb on Twitter
“I despise slow-moving tropical cyclones, and #Lane will be another one for the next 2-3 days. All Hawaiian Islands are on the stronger, wetter side of the hurricane, and the terrain will enhance rainfall and bring water and debris downslope. Potential flooding disaster.”
"Right now, this system is really setting up to be a significant rain event," FEMA Administrator Brock Long told reporters for the Weather Channel Thursday morning.
NASA also tweeted regarding temperature-based images of the hurricane,
NASA on Twitter
“Our @NASAEarth satellites are capturing views of #HurricaneLane from space as the storm approaches Hawaii. This infrared view shows a large ring of the coldest and most powerful storms around the eye earlier today. Take a look: https://t.co/en68wJ7b9c”
Carl Parker, Weather Channel meteorologist, stresses that assessment. “There’s a tremendous amount of moisture,” he said. “There is so much mountainous terrain that flash floods and mudslides are a huge concern.” Parker added that in addition to freshwater threats, the surf is anticipated to rise to 10 up to 20 feet in south shorelands. And the forecast for where Lane may be headed is really tricky, Parker says. “A south westerly wind flow could take it in, or it might just stay on Mau’i, which would be devastating.”
Gov. David Ige issued several statements via media, Twitter and Facebook, including an announcement that President Donald Trump had issued a disaster declaration. The state already has a hurricane relief fund that was set up after Hurricane Iniki which has been replenished, Ige said during a press conference broadcast live on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Aug. 22.
Governor David Ige on Twitter
“Request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the State of Hawai‘i has been approved for #HurricaneLane. Approval📜: https://t.co/qvWQe9rPJ7. We are grateful to the President and FEMA for the swift approval of our request as our state braces for the severe weather ahead.”
Ige said that federal, state and county agencies were coordinating “to keep the community safe.” All harbors have been closed, he said, and non-essential government workers have been sent home. He encouraged people to stock at least two weeks’ supplies, including food, water, medications, battery-powered radios and other supplies.
Ige also noted that the Emergency Broadcast System has “withstood the test of time, and will be operating as the storm proceeds,” in strongly encouraging residents to ensure their radios work and have extra batteries. At least 20 shelters were identified for O’ahu, and neighbor islands also have shelters in place, although Ige notes that there are not enough shelters for everybody and encouraged all who aren’t in flood zones to shelter in place.
"We do not want to see what happened in Puerto Rico [during last year’s Hurricane Maria], and we do that by making sure we're prepared," Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at the Wednesday press conference. "We need the full cooperation of all of the public, really showing the aloha that we're all about."
The Weather Channel also announced that, at 11 a.m. Hawai’i time, more than 10 inches of rain had already dropped on the Big Island, with 19 inches reported in some areas. Hawai’i Island is still recovering from the Kilauea volcano eruption that destroyed about 700 homes on the island’s windward (eastern) side.
Video of the flash flooding on the Big Island.
HawaiiElectricLight on Twitter
“Due to Hurricane Lane, Hawaii Island is currently experiencing torrential rain and flash flooding. Watch this video of Wailuku River shared by a Hawaii Electric Light employee to see firsthand. https://t.co/uL4ikkuVOj”
Local residents are busy preparing for the high winds, strong rainfall and possible flooding. On the windward (east) side of O’ahu, Nakoa Prejean took a few moments from securing his home in Hauula.
Prejean, Native Hawaiian, is also the owner of Hawaiian Ocean Adventures, a local tourism venue. “It’s all about preparation,” says Prejean. “We’ve shut down the business, and we’ve spent the last couple of days clearing trees and other debris and securing everything at home.” Prejean, the father of a 6-year-old son, is also grateful that schools have cancelled classes.
He’s also a bit bemused at all the near-apocalyptic coverage. “We’re pretty used to inclement weather here,” says Prejean. “We get a lot of weather like tropical storms.”
But, this storm is concerning because of its size and magnitude, Prejean says. “Some people on Kaua’i are still recovering from this spring’s rainstorms, and they’re very concerned about the hurricane.” In April, the island was inundated with 50 inches of rain in just 24 hours. But, he added, “we’re preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.” But he’s also got more gas cans on hand just in case.
Noalani Sugata, Native Hawaiian, lives on the leeward (west) side of Mau’i. Sugata, a marketing professional, noted via Twitter message that “It’s not raining on Mau’i yet,” but weather services say the island will be hit with rain by 2 p.m. Hawai’i time.
But aloha is still the word of the day in Hawai’i.
“Our aloha spirit is to go out and help each other,” Caldwell said during the conference. Prejean echoes that. “We’re watching out for others—family, elderly and neighbors.“There’s so much aloha here that we all come out to make sure everybody’s safe.”
For current information on emergency services, visit theHawai’i Emergency Management Agency.