View of Hurricane Lane from the International Space Station in the early morning hours near Hawaii, 22 August 2018. Photo: NASA

By Brian Resnick
22 August 2018

(Vox) – The state of Hawaii is facing a rare threat: A Category 4 hurricane is moving toward it, with hurricane watches and warnings in effect for most of the islands.

The state of Hawaii is facing a rare threat: A Category 4 hurricane is moving toward it, with hurricane watches and warnings in effect for most of the islands.

Hawaii is no stranger to natural hazards like volcanic eruptions (remember Kilauea?). But due to high-pressure weather patterns over the central Pacific, and a lot of deep, cool water around the islands, tropical storms usually steer clear.

It’s unclear if the storm — which is currently howling with 155 mph winds — will just graze the islands as it approaches on Thursday, or if it will make landfall. It’s expected to weaken a bit over the next day, but will remain “a dangerous hurricane as it approaches the islands,” the National Weather Service warns.

In any case: it’s a potentially scary situation for the islands’ 1.4 million inhabitants, given the size of the storm and the impact it could have. “The center of Lane will track dangerously close to the islands Thursday through Saturday,” the National Weather Service’s Honolulu office reports. “Regardless of the exact track of the storm center, life threatening impacts are likely over some areas as this strong hurricane makes its closest approach.” […]

As CNN reports, a named storm passes within 60 miles of Hawaii every four years or so. But it’s also the case that the Pacific waters around the islands are about a degree Celsius warmer than usual, which is helping to fuel Lane’s powerful wind speeds. [more]

Hawaii is facing a rare threat: a major hurricane


This image from the GOES-15 satellite shows Hurricane Lane, with a well-defined eye, positioned about 300 miles south of Hawaii's Big Island at 2 p.m. ET on 22 August 2018. Photo: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

22 August 2018 (NOAA) – The state of Hawaii faces a significant threat from powerful Hurricane Lane, which is expected to track northward toward the islands by the end of this week. This image from the GOES-15 satellite shows Hurricane Lane, with a well-defined eye, positioned about 300 miles south of Hawaii's Big Island at 2 p.m. ET on 22 August 2018.

Lane briefly reached Category 5 intensity early Wednesday, with sustained winds of 160 mph, before weakening slightly to a high-end Category 4 storm. The latest National Hurricane Center forecast shows the storm beginning a northward turn, putting Hawaii at risk of significant impacts, including damaging winds, heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and storm surge. On Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for Hawaii's Big Island and Maui, while hurricane watches are in effect across the rest of the state.

Despite Hawaii's location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, very few hurricanes have made landfall in the Aloha State. NOAA's historical hurricane tracks database shows only a handful of hurricanes passing within a few hundred miles of the islands. A hurricane has not made landfall since Iniki battered the island of Kauai in 1992, while the Big Island has never been struck by a hurricane since modern weather records began. Forecasters are warning residents that even if Hawaii avoids a direct hit from Hurricane Lane, southern parts of the state may still face damaging impacts from the storm.

The GOES-15 satellite is currently NOAA's operational GOES West satellite, which provides geostationary coverage of the United States, western South America and much of the Pacific Ocean, from 22,000 miles above Earth.

Major Hurricane Lane Heads Toward Hawaii

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