Hurricane Lane is now in category 5, the National Weather Service said Tuesday as the storm drew closer to Hawaii. The NWS says a hurricane warning now applies to the island of Hawaii, also known as Big Island, while a hurricane watch is in place for Maui County and Oahu Island, where Honolulu is located.
The "Lane Center is Thursday to Saturday very close to or about the main Hawaiian Islands," the weather service said in its forecast Tuesday night local time.
A hurricane warning is usually taken about 36 hours before Tropical-Storm-Force is expected to hit a location.
Residents "rushed to stores to stock up on bottled water, ramen, toilet paper, and other supplies," as the storm neared, reports the Associated Press.
Lane's maximum sustained winds are nearly 160 miles per hour, said the National Meteorological Service, which will slowly weaken in the next 48 hours. But the agency warned, "Lane is expected to remain a dangerous hurricane as it approaches the Hawaiian Islands."
The service said hurricane conditions in the warning area, in Hawaii County, are expected on Thursday, while tropical storm conditions would affect the "watch" area as of Thursday.
Flash flooding and landslides are expected, with a total rainfall of 10 to 15 inches, while certain areas of Hawaii can be flooded with more than 20 inches of rain. "Large and potentially damaging surf" will affect the exposed shores facing west, south and east, the NWS said.
Hawaii Public Radio has a list of emergency numbers and guides for Hawaii residents preparing for the storm.
The Mayor of Hawaii, Harry Kim, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday morning on the Big Island.
Gov. David Ige signed an emergency announcement Tuesday to "alleviate catastrophe, loss and suffering" caused by the hurricane. It explains counties of "Hawai'i, Maui, Kalawao, Kaua, and the city and county of Honolulu disaster areas for the purpose of implementing emergency management functions," said his office.
"Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane," Ige said in a statement on Tuesday. "I have not seen such dramatic changes in the prediction as I have seen in this storm, and I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact."
The state offices on Hawaii Island and Maui remain closed Wednesday through Friday as the governor announced that non-state employees in both counties should be put on administrative retirement.
All public and charter schools in the two counties closed Wednesday, until further notice, said the Hawaii State Department of Education.
Long-time residents of Hawaii were reminded of the destruction caused by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, according to Hawaii News Now, on Kauai Island in September of that year as a Category 4 storm at 145 mph Winds hit.
This storm killed six people and caused $ 1.8 billion in damage, including food crops, destroying or destroying thousands of homes and buildings.
"Many people compare the similarities between Iniki and Lane," said Kauai resident Mike Miranda to the AP. "I remember how little rain fell, but I remember that the wind was the strongest force of nature I've ever seen, and probably the scariest sounds I've ever heard in my life," he said ,