Hurricane Lane: Monster Category 5 storm targeting Hawaii

HONOLULU (CBSNews) -- Hawaii residents rushed to stores to stock up on bottled water, ramen, toilet paper and other supplies as they faced the threat of heavy rain, flash flooding and high surf as a powerful hurricane continued to churn toward the state. CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV describes Hurricane Lane as a "massive and rare Category 5 Central Pacific cyclone."

The National Weather Service announced Tuesday night that Lane crossed the Category 5 line, meaning it's likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds 157 mph or above. At 11 p.m. in Hawaii (5 a.m. EDT), forecasters said the hurricane was about 505 miles south-southeast of Honolulu and 350 miles south-southeast of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, moving west-northwest at 9 mph and packing 160 mph winds.

"It's one of only two recorded Category 5 hurricanes to pass within 350 miles of the Big Island's South Point," says KGMB. "The last: Hurricane John in 1994."

Earlier Tuesday, the weather service issued a hurricane warning for Hawaii island (known as the Big Island) and a hurricane watch for Oahu, Maui and other smaller islands, meaning tropical storm-force winds, excessive rain and large swells could arrive starting Wednesday.

"On its forecast track, the center of Lane will move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands from Thursday Saturday. ... Slow weakening is forecast ... but Lane is forecast to remain a dangerous hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands," the weather service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, in Honolulu, warned late Tuesday.

The center said Lane's heavy rain and strong winds could bring heavy swells, flash flooding and landslides.

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

Public schools on the Big Island and in Maui County are closed Wednesday until further notice.

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. Employees on Hawaii and Maui islands who work in disaster response as well as in hospitals and prisons are required to report to their jobs, the governor said.

Longtime Hawaii residents recalled a devastating 1992 hurricane as they prepared for Hurricane Lane.

Kauai resident Mike Miranda was 12 when Hurricane Iniki devastated the island 26 years ago. "A lot of people are comparing the similarities between Iniki and Lane," he said.

Iniki's turn into the islands was sudden, he recalled.

"I remember how very little rain fell. But I remember the wind being the strongest force of nature I've ever witnessed and probably the scariest sounds I've ever heard in my life," he said.

Utility poles were down all over the island, and his 7th-grade classes were held in Army tents for several months.

Miranda said his family is used to preparing for hurricane season.

"A lot of people who moved here and never experienced a hurricane. They're the ones rushing to the store," he said.

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