High winds and torrential rains from Hurricane Lane pounded Hawaii on Thursday, touching off flash floods, landslides and heavy surf as it spun toward the islands, prompting schools and offices to close as residents hunkered down to ride out the storm.
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico previous year, a FEMA report noted that one of its main issues was not having enough generators and other emergency aid on the island before the storm. Forecasters predict the storm's unsafe center could move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands later Thursday or Friday. The storm, which could become the first major cyclone to make landfall on Hawaii in 26 years, could be so devastating that authorities are urging residents to set aside two weeks' worth of food and water.
Governor David Ige declared a state of emergency Tuesday on Big Island to help provide relief for damage from the hurricane.
Tropical-storm-force winds - 39-73 miles per hour - and rain could arrive at the Big Island and Maui County late Wednesday and early Thursday, and at the other islands Thursday or Friday.
Dangerous, hurricane-force winds were expected to hit the Big Island overnight and slam Maui Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) urged the Filipino community in Hawaii to make necessary preparations in anticipation of a powerful hurricane that is expected to hit the islands starting Thursday evening.
All of the Hawaiian islands are under weather alerts.
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Pi said Hurricane Lane is expected to drop 15 to 20 inches of rain on Maui and the west side of Hawaii, while Oahu is expected to get 10 to 15 inches rain.
President Trump "swiftly approved" it, he said.
A spokesman said: "Conditions will continue to deteriorate throughout the day as Hurricane Lane moves by the island and winds increase".
However, the NWS has said that the storm, which is more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) wide, will cause significant unsafe weather in Hawaii even if it only skirts the state.
The downpours could also lead to landslides.
A National Weather Service spokesman said: "The centre of Lane will move very close to or over the main Hawaiian Islands from Thursday through Saturday".
The arrival of the storm's outer bands made the threat seem more real.
While the exact path of Lane remains uncertain, CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri says the storm could weaken as it nears the islands.