A hurricane impacting Hawai’i is a rare sight, and a major hurricane passing near Hawai’i is rarer still. But that is exactly what Hurricane Lane is threatening to do. Earlier this week, Lane reached Category 5 status, only the sixth hurricane to ever do so in the Central Pacific basin. Lane has since weakened somewhat. As of Wednesday evening, the storm was a category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 mph and was located 260 miles south of Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i.
Fortunately, Lane is expected to continue to weaken and will likely fall below major hurricane status when it makes it closest approach to Hawai’i on Friday. However, hurricane warnings are in effect for Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, and the Big Island, while hurricane watches are in effect for Kauai and Niihau, meaning winds of over 74 mph are expected in these locations. Torrential rainfall is also expected, with amounts up to 20 inches possible in the mountainous terrain according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. These totals will make mudslides a major concern.
While a hurricane approaching Hawai’i is indeed rare, it is not unprecedented. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki stuck the island of Kauai is a category 4 storm and caused in excess of $3 billion in damage.