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Lane downgraded to tropical storm as downpours flood Hawaii's Big Island

27 August 2018

Almost two feet of rain fell on parts of Hawaii's Big Island as Hurricane Lane approached the state early Friday, causing heavy flooding and landslides that blocked roads - with the worst still yet to come, according to forecasters.

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. Hawaii Gov. David Ige told residents to avoid floodwaters and runoff "due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer, manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals, and associated flood debris".

Emergency crews were responding to reports of people trapped in vehicles and homes along with landslides and fallen trees that have blocked major roadways on the island of Hawaii, popularly known as the Big Island, according to accounts on social media. The main town of Hilo, with 43,000 people, was flooded Friday with waist-high water.

Honolulu authorities said they were planning to activate a three-minute island-wide outdoor siren warning system at 4:00 pm (0200 GMT Friday) to alert the public to the possibility of severe flooding.

Brad Kieserman of the Red Cross said there were 16 emergency shelters open and 283 people across the island already in them. It's a monster as viewed from the International Space Station. "Large swells generated by Lane will impact the Hawaiian Islands". And the first problem is that because it's been so long since a really devastating storm has hit Hawaii, there's that problem of the out of sight, out of mind. The government listed more than a dozen other road and bridge closures. Nearly 2,000 customers on the island lost power, according to Maui Electric, but for most, it was quickly restored.

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Lane was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, then to a Category 1, the lowest ranking on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, as it churned through the Pacific south of Oahu, the National Weather Service said.

As workers piled sandbags and boarded up store windows, pictures showed many still enjoying the waves of Honolulu's Waikiki Beach Thursday. Shoppers jostled with one another to get the last boxes of ramen noodles, Reuters reported.

A huge brush fire has broken out in West Maui as Hurricane Lane looms down on Big Island and Oahu.

Even so, its outer bands continue to cause significant damage on the island of Hawaii, forcing residents to stay put. Chevalier said Oahu and Maui will face hurricane or tropical storm conditions later Friday.

The city of Hilo was waist-deep in floodwater, even as the National Weather Service downgraded Lane from a Category 2 storm to a Category 1, Reuters reported, with maximum sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour. But Steve Goldstein of the National Weather Service says that in terms of preparation, it doesn't really matter.

Lane downgraded to tropical storm as downpours flood Hawaii's Big Island