Lane triggers flash floods, landslides in Hawaii


US president Trump urges Hawaiians to prepare for the worst


Incoming waves tower over bystanders in Kona, Hawaii, US. — Reuters photo

HAWAIIAN OCEAN VIEW, United States: Torrential rains struck Hawaii as Hurricane Lane moved toward the island state, triggering land slides and flash flooding.

At 0600 GMT, the National Weather Service said the hurricane was packing winds in excess of 195 kilometres per hour, despite being downgraded to category three.

Currently located some 230 miles south of the capital Honolulu, Hurricane Lane was expected to hit very close to the islands on Thursday night or yesterday morning.

A car is stuck partially submerged in floodwaters from Hurricane Lane rainfall on the Big Island in Hilo, Hawaii. — AFP photo

“Hurricane Lane is still a dangerous and powerful storm,” Governor David Ige told a news conference on Thursday afternoon.

Up to 12 inches of rain had already fallen before dawn, federal authorities said, with 30 inches expected in the worst-hit areas over the coming four to five days.

Over two feet of rain have already fallen at a couple of locations on the windward side of the Big Island, the National Hurricane Center said.

Emergency teams have set up 16 evacuation centers, with a further 19 due to open later as President Donald Trump, who has declared a state of emergency, urged Hawaiians to hunker down and prepare for the worst.

“Our teams are closely coordinating with the state and local authorities. You are in our thoughts!” Trump tweeted.

People enter a Red Cross shelter at McKinley High School ahead of the arrival of hurricane Lane in Honolulu, Hawaii. — AFP photo

Brock Long, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said authorities were ‘extremely concerned about the potentials for inland flooding, landslides occurring and damage to the transportation, communications infrastructure’.

Residents across the state stocked up on water, food, gasoline and emergency supplies as Lane drew nearer.

Landslides and flooding caused by the first rainstorm partially blocked several roads on Big Island, according to local media.

Sea levels were expected to rise as much as two to four feet above normal tide levels, causing coastal erosion and prompting a storm surge and ‘large and destructive waves’.

United Airlines said it had canceled all yesterday flights to and from Kahului airport on Maui, the second-largest island.

A man takes photos of floodwaters from Hurricane Lane rainfall on the Big Island in Hilo, Hawaii. — AFP photo

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

The US Coast Guard said 57,000 US military personnel already stationed in Hawaii were ready to provide logistical and medical support or conduct search and rescue missions operations.

“Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane,” Ige said in a statement as he declared a state of emergency Tuesday on the Big Island.

“I’ve not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I’ve seen with this storm.” — AFP