Hurricane Lane strengthens to Category 5 storm as it nears Hawaii

Hurricane Lane 5-day forecast track. 6:30 p.m

Clocking in with maximum sustained winds of 315 mph, Lane was located around 460 miles from Kailua-Kona and xxx miles from Honolulu and was headed west-northwest at 9 mph at 5 a.m., according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Lane's center is predicted to pass close to the island of Hawaii, also known as the "Big Island", and Maui, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Gavin Shigesato, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said Tuesday that tropical storm conditions are possible beginning tonight, with hurricane conditions possible on Thursday.

The extremely powerful Hurricane Lane is closing in on Hawaii, where heavy rain, strong winds and unsafe surf are expected Thursday into the weekend.

Forecasters said it was still uncertain whether the eye of the powerful hurricane would hit land in the US island chain, whose Big Island is reeling from a three-month eruption of Kilauea volcano. A hurricane warning issued Tuesday evening remains in effect for Hawaii County.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 40 miles and tropical-storm-force winds up to 140 miles from the center, the weather service said.

Kauai resident Mike Miranda was 12 when Hurricane Iniki devastated the island 26 years ago.

Lane is forecast to move dangerously close to the main Hawaiian Islands later this week, potentially bringing damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding from heavy rainfall anywhere in the state.

NASA satellite imagery shows the hurricane is now in the Central Pacific Ocean southeast of the islands.

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The storm is now moving westward at 12 miles per hour (19 km/h) and should continue to move west through tonight.

Even if the centre of Lane doesn't make landfall, the islands could be walloped with rain and wind.

A hurricane watch has been issued for Hawaii and Maui counties.

Tornadoes and large waterspouts will be possible due to Lane, mainly along and to the right of the track of the hurricane, the weather service said. All after-school activities statewide are canceled for the rest of the week. It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands are directly impacted.

Gov. David Ige (D) said he will allow nonessential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave through Friday.

Officials were urging residents across the islands to prepare.

"If you're in the path of #HurricaneLane, get ready now and make sure your family and neighbors do as well", the Federal Emergency Management Agency tweeted Wednesday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration has been sending multiple aircraft into and around the storm in order to help observe the hurricane and improve the forecast, providing a better idea of the threat Lane presents to Hawaii. "Once the storm has passed and it is safe for our crews to begin restoration, we will work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power".

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