Hurricane Lane strengthens to Category 5 as it heads toward Hawaii

Hurricane Lane tropical storm force wind probabilities. 5 p.m

Hurricane Lane strengthened to a Category 5 storm on Tuesday as it headed toward Hawaii, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The powerful hurricane was about 350 miles (565 km) south-southeast of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour (260 km/h) at about 11:30 p.m. local time, the NHC said.

Data from the aircraft indicate that as of 6:20 p.m., maximum sustained winds have increased to near 160 miles per hour with higher gusts, putting Lane at Category 5 intensity. Roofs and walls will collapse.

Damaging tropical storm force winds could begin as early as Wednesday night in Maui County, with unsafe hurricane force winds possible starting Thursday, the weather service said.

Hawaii is already coping with the three-month eruption of Kilauea volcano on the Big Island, which was expected to start feeling the force of Lane's driving rains by late Wednesday afternoon, the Hawaii-based center said.

Forecasters say slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Lane is forecast to remain a unsafe hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands.

Slight weakening is expected during the next couple of days, but Lane is forecast to remain a unsafe hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands.

"This storm is fairly strong, even if the eye itself, the center of the hurricane, is offshore, there's still quite a lot of effects", he said. There's uncertainty to Lane's path - whether it moves north or south, meteorologist Gavin Shigesato said.

"The only other [hurricane] that has made landfall is Iniki, and that was in 92'", Parkinson said.

Lane could become the first hurricane to directly make landfall in Honolulu since Hawaii became a state, Axios reported.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is allowing non-essential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave from Wednesday to Friday as Hurricane Lane approaches. All after-school activities statewide are cancelled for the rest of the week. Lane is starting to make it's turn tonight towards Hawaii. It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands are directly impacted.

On Tuesday, Hawaii residents scrambled to prepare for the storm's arrival. "We have the two weeks supply of everything on hand - food, water, medication, clinical labs for blood needs, and we can take care of any of the emergencies that would arise".

Large waves are already being experienced along the eastern edge of Hawaii, with a "sizable swell already propagating out from this storm, which is now impacting the eastern exposures throughout the Hawaiian Islands, showing strongest along the Hilo Side of the Big Island", according to Jonathan Warren, lead forecaster for Surfline.com.

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