- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner
Hurricane Lane has soaked Hawaii’s Big Island, dumping a foot of rain (30cm) in 12 hours as the state endures its first hurricane since 1992.
The National Weather Service warned that some areas could see up to two-and-a-half feet (76cm) of rain 30in before the system passes, with bands of rain extending 350 miles from the hurricane’s centre.
The Category 4 storm is not projected to make a direct hit on the islands, but officials have warned that even a lesser blow could do significant harm.
Steve Goldstein, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington, said: “You do not need a direct strike to have major impacts from a hurricane this strong.”
The centre of the storm was predicted to move close to or over portions of the main islands later on Thursday or on Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20ft and a storm surge of up to 4ft, forecasters said.
As of 8am local time, the hurricane was 290 miles south of Honolulu and moving north-west at 7mph.
Maximum winds had weakened slightly to 130mph, the National Weather Service said.
Pablo Akira Beimler, who lives on the coast in Honokaa on the Big Island, said roads had been cut off by landslides.
“Rain has been non-stop for the last half-hour or so and winds are just starting to pick up,” he said as he posted videos online of trees being blown sideways.
“Our usually quiet stream is raging right now.”
He said staying put is the only choice he has.
“We essentially have one way in and out of our towns so sheltering in place is the priority,” he said on Twitter.
Elsewhere, two campers were reported trapped overnight in Waipio Valley, along the Big Island’s northern coast. The campers called authorities but emergency crews could not mount a rescue operation.
“We can’t go in because the roads – there’s a river of water down there,” Hawaii County managing director Wil Okabe said.
In addition, there are reports of boulders falling into a park in Hilo on the east side of the island.
Shelters opened on Wednesday on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
Officials have also been working to help Hawaii’s sizeable homeless population, many of whom live near beaches and streams that could flood.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator Tom Travis said there is not enough shelter space state-wide and he advised people who are not in flood zones to stay at home.
Authorities also warned that the shelters are not designed to withstand winds greater than about 40mph and that for most people they should be a “last resort”.
Public schools on the islands have been closed for the rest of the week, and local government workers have been told to stay at home unless they are essential employees.
Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier said Lane may weaken to a Category 3 by Thursday afternoon but that would still be a major hurricane.
The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with only about four or five named storms a year.
Hawaii rarely gets hit, and the last major storm there was Iniki in 1992.