Hurricane Lane Live Updates: New Threat as Wind Drives Brush Fire on Maui

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Because the storm was lumbering north at five miles an hour, forecasters said heavy rains were likely to continue into next week, with further inundation coming from storm surge and rising waters.

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A man tried to retrieve items from his car after it was stranded in floodwaters in Hilo.

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Bruce Omori/EPA, via Shutterstock

Here’s the latest:

• By Friday morning, local time, Hurricane Lane had weakened to a Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of about 110 miles an hour. It was about 180 miles south of Honolulu. Tropical storm conditions had already begun on the islands of Hawaii, Maui and Oahu on Friday morning; Maui and Oahu were expected to experience hurricane conditions later on Friday.

• The American Red Cross said 1,500 people spent Thursday night in shelters on the islands.

• More than 30 inches of rain were recorded at one gauge on the Big Island, according to the National Weather Service, which said some areas could expect as many as 40 inches.

• The authorities evacuated people in Lahaina, in West Maui, after a brush fire ignited and spread quickly on Friday. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

• Five tourists from California were rescued from a flooded vacation home in Hilo on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

A slow-moving storm can lead to a lot more rain.

The fact that Lane is moving slowly, about five miles an hour, means that it is likely to dump large amounts of rain.

In June, our reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis looked at a study published in the journal Nature that focused on what is known as translation speed, which measures how quickly a storm is moving over an area, say, from Miami to the Florida Panhandle. Between 1949 and 2016, tropical cyclone translation speeds declined 10 percent worldwide, the study says. The storms, in effect, are sticking around for a longer period of time.

Hurricane Lane Map: Tracking the Storm’s Path Toward Hawaii

The storm was approaching Hawaii on Wednesday.


Lingering hurricanes can be a problem, as Texans learned last year when Hurricane Harvey stalled over the state, causing devastating flooding and billions of dollars of damage. The storm dropped more than 30 inches of rain in two days and nearly 50 inches over four days in some places. A report released by Harris County, which includes Houston, found that Harvey’s rainfall exceeded every known flooding event in American history since 1899.

Read more about the dangers of lingering hurricanes here.

It’s been a year filled with emergencies for Hawaii.

First came an errant alert that a ballistic missile was headed for Hawaii. Then 50 inches of rain were recorded in one day on Kauai, flooding parts of the island. Next a slow-motion eruption of the Kilauea volcano ravaged parts of the Big Island. Now the state is facing its latest potential calamity: Hurricane Lane.

On Thursday, we spoke with Hawaiians on the Big Island who were dealing with the deluge, and those to the north as they prepared for their own lashing of strong winds, heavy rain, rough surf and rising water.

For many of the islands’ residents, it was hard to believe that a hurricane would make a direct hit when they have been spared so many times in the past. Still, some people prepared with a sense of urgency.

“I’m normally not a person that makes sure my gas tanks are full and everything is all settled and organized, but I totally organized and brought everything in, and my chickens are in the garage,” said Heather Nelson, 39, who works in event production and lives in Volcano, Hawaii.

On the Big Island, in Kalapana, Suzette Ridolfi, a teacher who evacuated her home as Kilauea was spewing lava, said “the volcano was way more scary.”

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Employees of a Honolulu hotel filled sandbags in preparation for the storm.

Credit
John Locher/Associated Press

“With the volcano there was no rest,” she said. “It was intense, intense, intense and the intensity never slowed down a bit. And, with the hurricane passing, there’s big rains and heavy rains and we get really scared for a few minutes, but then it stops and it’s peaceful, it’s calm.”

Read more about the multiple threats faced by Hawaiians this year here.

The storm put a damper on thousands of vacations.

The five California tourists rescued from a vacation home on Thursday were a minuscule slice of the 270,000 tourists estimated to be on Hawaii.

The state had a record year for tourism in 2017, according to George Szigeti, the president and chief executive of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, who said things had continued at a steady clip in 2018 despite the drumbeat of bad news.

“It’s been a very active year,” Mr. Szigeti said, “but I would tell you, Hawaii is a very resilient destination.”

Tourists who wanted to cut vacations short early may have found it difficult to do so, Mr. Szigeti said, because so many flights were already full.

Doug Okada, the general manager of the Aston Waikiki Sunset, a towering hotel in Honolulu, said his 330 units were full this week, since it was high season. Some visitors had canceled incoming stays, but others had extended them because they did not want to fly out during the storm.

“We just have to do our best to get through this,” said Mr. Okada, who was urging guests to shelter in place. “Some guests have never been in a hurricane situation, so it’s a thrilling experience. I’m glad they are positive, but they’ve been warned not to go out in dangerous conditions.”

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