Oahu residents and businesses were beginning to prepare for the worst Monday as word spread about the looming storm that is following a path similar to 1992’s catastrophic Hurricane Iniki.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and county officials on the neighbor islands are urging the public to be vigilant about preparing for Hurricane Lane as it advances toward the state, possibly with dangerous surf, thunderstorms and forceful winds.
At 11 p.m. Monday the Category 4 hurricane was about 500 miles southeast of Kailua-Kona and 670 miles southeast of Honolulu, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Lane had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and was moving toward the west at about 12 mph with some slowing. A gradual turn toward the northwest is expected Wednesday into Thursday.
“Excessive rainfall associated with Lane could affect portions of the Hawaiian Islands from Wednesday into the weekend, leading to flash flooding and mud slides,” the hurricane center said.
Hawaii residents weren’t taking any chances.
“If it turns we’re going to be in trouble,” said Salt Lake resident Robby Paulino, 48, who was shopping Monday at Longs Drugs in Kaimuki.
Down the road at City Mill, Kahala resident Mark Muraki, 57, said he already had taped up his windows, stocked up on water, pork and beans, vienna sausage and Spam, as well as eight cans of propane for his gas stove. He was headed to fill up his gas tank next.
“We were here with Iniki and even Iwa. It was really bad. It was really windy, and the rain came down really hard and we actually left our house. We packed our cars and went to someplace that wasn’t as bad,” he said. “We always kind of keep a box around with water and canned goods just in case. If you do it too last-minute, it gets kind of crowded and you can’t get anything. It’s not like the mainland where you got a lot of resources. It’s just an island.”
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale for Hawaii is a 1 to 5 categorization based on the hurricane’s intensity.
>> Tropical Storm: winds 39-73 mph
>> Category 1: winds 74-95 mph
>> Category 2: winds 96-110 mph
>> Category 3: winds 111-129 mph
>> Category 4: winds 130-156 mph
>> Category 5: winds 157 mph and up
The city’s Department of Facility Maintenance today is scheduled to begin clearing ditches at Pokai Bay. But city crews warned that they cannot clear debris high in Oahu’s valleys. Residents are asked to report illegal dumping to a city hotline at 768-7890. The city is also canceling projects, including sand dune restoration at Sunset Beach on the North Shore, while the U.S. Coast Guard has put restrictions on port facilities that include reducing vessel traffic, limiting transportation of bulk oil and hazardous materials, removing shore-side debris and directing vessels and barges 200 tons or more to prepare to depart if conditions worsen.
Lane is expected to generate large swells that will be felt across the state this week and will produce large and potentially damaging surf along exposed shorelines, according to the hurricane center.
Hurricane-force winds are forecast to extend outward up to 40 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds to extend outward up to 125 miles.
Caldwell led a briefing on Hurricane Lane at the city’s Emergency Operations Center which included directors and staff of city departments as well as the hurricane center. A third briefing on Lane is scheduled for this morning.
Salt Lake resident Randy Paulino was on vacation in Waikiki since Friday and knew nothing about the impending storm until posts about the hurricane began flooding his Instagram account.
“We went home today (to) turn on our ice machine, fill up all our fishing coolers with water and just wait,” he said. “We have a lot of canned goods from the previous one that was coming close. I’m going to cover my boat and make sure the boat is OK. From the previous (storm) we went to Costco. My dad spent like $300 so we get enough.”
A City Mill spokeswoman said the company has brought in new storm products including a 5-gallon collapsible water jug, a liner that stores water in a bathtub and first-aid survival kits. The store plans to stock the shelves ahead of schedule before the storm hits.
“I don’t think everybody’s responding to it yet, but … we’ve got water, coolers, buckets. These are the kind of items we try to stay in stock on, that way we’re always prepared for the emergency for everybody,” said Gary Wilson, a City Mill supervisor in Kaimuki who was stocking flashlights, lanterns and coolers Monday. “Right now we’re trying to make sure we have enough ponchos and rain gear.”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist Leigh Anne Eaton told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that residents should take precautions now and clear rain gutters and nearby streambeds of debris to lessen the potential impact of flash flooding and heavy rain.
“It is hurricane season. As we’ve been stressing since the beginning of summer, make sure you’ve got your plans in place, make sure you’ve got all of your supplies — they’re saying up to 14 days now that you want supplies ready for you,” she said. “Now is the time to start looking at those things, especially around your house. Your trees, start trimming those, anything that could potentially cause unwanted damage.”