Hurricane Lane: Hawaii hit by flooding and landslides as storm nears

A car is stuck partially submerged in floodwaters from Hurricane Lane rainfall on the Big Island, Hawaii, 23 August 2018Image copyright
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Hawaii has been hit with strong winds and torrential rain as Hurricane Lane approaches the US state, causing flash flooding and landslides.

Schools and offices were closed as residents took shelter from the storm, which was downgraded to category three strength on Thursday.

As the hurricane neared the Aloha state on Friday, it brought winds of 120 mph (193 km/h) and heavy rainfall.

President Donald Trump earlier declared a state of emergency for Hawaii.

The White House said that federal authorities were on standby to provide support and supplies to local and state emergency response efforts.

While the storm has been downgraded, the situation remains “dangerous” and severe flooding is a “major concern”, the National Weather Service (NWS) tweeted.

Lane will also cause dangerous surf heights of up to 25ft (7.6m) in Maui and Oahu by Friday morning. Officials warned of “significant beach erosion” and waves hitting coastal roadways.

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The flooding caused landslides and resulted in the closure of several roads

Meanwhile United Airlines said it had cancelled all Friday flights to and from the main airports on Maui, the second-largest island.

How are residents coping?

On the Big Island, where a hurricane warning was earlier issued by the NWS, more than 12in (30cm) of rain fell on Thursday.

Roads were closed due to the landslides and images of cars attempting to tackle the deep waters were posted on social media.

Residents in other areas of the Big Island, such as Hilo, were caught out by the flash floods with several vehicles becoming trapped.

A member of staff at a local service station in Haleiwa, on the north shore of Oahu island, told AFP news agency that motorists had been “constantly filling” their vehicles.

“Everybody is in a panic mode right now, everyone is filling up gas, gas cans, propane cans,” he said.

A hurricane watch was also issued by the NWS for the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

According to the Red Cross, over 1,500 people are in shelters, Hawaii News Now reported.

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Media captionTomasz Schafernaker has the latest forecast for Hurricane Lane

Hawaii Governor David Ige urged residents to set aside supplies of water, food and medicines as a precaution and to avoid driving if possible.

Dozens of evacuation centres were also set up throughout the day as Mr Trump urged Hawaiians to hunker down and prepare for the worst.

Does Hawaii see many hurricanes?

In the state’s history, only two storms of this strength have ever come within 350 miles (563 km) of the islands, according to the NWS.

Hurricanes rarely hit the Central Pacific region, due to currents and water conditions. These storms have always been more common in the eastern US.

According to NWS, only four named storms have made landfall in Hawaii since 1959 – and only two of those storms were hurricanes.

Hawaii generally sees about one storm strong enough to earn a name pass within 60 miles of the islands every four years.

Earlier this month, Hurricane Hector, a category four storm, also passed by the islands, though it did not come as close as Lane.

The state has also seen serious volcanic eruptions this summer, with lava and ash spewing from the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island since May.

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