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Hawaii Braces For Dangerous Category 5 Hurricane

NASA

The Aloha State is a little less inviting this week, as Hawaii's residents prepare for a powerful hurricane.

As of Wednesday morning, Hurricane Lane is around 500 miles to the southwest of the Pacific island chain, and experts warn it could head straight for Hawaii.

Category Five

Hurricane Lane
Hurricane Lane, seen from a NASA satellite, with Hawaii above.National Weather Service

Hurricane Lane is currently a category five storm, the strongest level of hurricane recognized by the National Hurricane Center.

Winds near the center of the hurricane are whipping up to 160 miles per hour - strong enough to blow down trees and power lines.

Already, the effects of the hurricane are forming powerful waves on Hawaii's east coast.

Hurricane Lane
Lane will either pass extremely close to Hawaii, or even make landfall over the island chain.National Weather Service

As the storm moves west, it's expected to pass "dangerously close to the main Hawaiian islands," according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Lane could even make landfall over the islands, but it's too early to accurately predict the storm's path.

Whether or not it crosses over the Hawaiian islands, Lane's close path will bring up to 20 inches of rain to some parts of the islands, along with destructive flash floods.

Rockslides and landslides in Hawaii's mountainous regions are another major concern.

A Generation Storm

Because of its small size and distance from the West Coast, Hawaii has rarely been rocked by the kind of massive hurricanes that slam the Gulf Coast.

This is just the second time a category five hurricane has passed so close to the islands - the last one was Hurricane John in 1994.

But Hawaii is no stranger to storms: Hurricane Hector brought harsh weather just two weeks ago, while Hurricane Iniki caused more than a billion dollar's worth of damage in 1992.

Hurricane Iniki
Damage caused by Hurricane Iniki.FEMA - Wikimedia

Hawaii's governor, David Ige, is warning to treat Lane as seriously as Iniki.

"Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane," Ige said in a statement Tuesday.

"I've not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I've seen with this storm. I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact."

Worst Case Scenario

Hurricane Lane
An empty display of Spam at a Honolulu grocery store.T.L. Langford - Twitter

Hawaiians are following Ige's warning to stock up on water, food, and toilet paper before the storm arrives.

Tropical storm-force winds could arrive as early as Wednesday, as the National Weather service has already issued storm warnings for Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii's smaller islands.

CBS Honolulu reports that officials have urged locals to "prepare for the worst."

The harshest part of the storm is expected to begin Thursday, while strong weather caused by Lane could last until Saturday.

If Lane makes landfall, experts say it will probably be on Thursday or later.

Hurricane Lane
Wind and rain could cause rock and mudslides throughout Hawaii.Bill Karins - Twitter

To complicate Hawaii's situation even more, the Mount Kilauea volcano is technically still active.

Thankfully, lava flow from the mountain has "paused," and experts say the storm won't have much effect on the volcano's region.

So far, American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines are still running flights into Hawaii, but are issuing travel advisories to passengers.

Both airlines are waving fees for passengers who hope to reschedule their reservations.

Hopefully everyone in Hawaii can stay safe through the storm!

[H/T: NBC News, Fox News, CNN, NPR, CBS News]

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