Hurricane Lane continues to weaken as it approaches the Hawaii islands, but hurricane-force winds are still a possibility for Oahu and Maui County, Leigh Anne Eaton, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service told reporters during a noon media briefing at the state emergency operations center in Diamond Head crater.
Weather experts are still expecting a sheer to cut off the storm and trade winds to carry it off to the west, lessening the impacts on the islands.
The slow-moving nature of the storm is good in the sense that it allows the sheer to cut it off, but bad in that it can allow moisture and rain to linger over the islands for a prolonged period of time, said Eaton. Hawaii is at high risk of flooding, particularly along the coasts and in valleys.
A hurricane warning is still in effect for Oahu and Maui County, a tropical storm warning is in effect for Hawaii island and a tropical storm watch is in effect for Kauai and Niihau.
Top government officials and representatives from the airlines, shipping companies, healthcare agencies and utilities also provided updates during the briefing.
Gov. David Ige said he received a call from President Trump this morning who pledged the full support of federal agencies. Ige urged people to stay indoors and shelter in place unless conditions felt unsafe, in which case they should move to a shelter.
On Oahu, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that about 1,110 people had moved into shelters thus far. He said the city did not plan to order mandatory evacuations “unless we see the worst of the worst.” There is still plenty of space in the shelters, and the state and counties have plans in place to open more if necessary.
On Maui, officials are considering opening additional shelter space in Wailuku and Kahului due to a brushfire in west Maui that had burned at least 300 acres and prompted evacuations.
Hundreds of people have periodically lost power as the hurricane approaches, but Hawaiian Electric Co. CEO Alan Oshima assured people that they were not having rolling outages, as some were speculating on social media. He said shortfalls in generation are not a problem. The electric grids carry large amounts of solar power, but Oshima said that the cloudy conditions didn’t pose a problem and the island utilities had backup capacity to meet the needs of the population.
Representatives from Matson, Pasha Hawaii and Young Brothers said they had hundreds of containers out at sea waiting to come into ports once the weather is safe.
The airline industry is urging people not to go to airports unless they actually have a reservation. The best way to check a flight status is through the websites of individual airlines.
Officials also urged residents and visitors to report any suspected instances of price gouging, including the name of the vendor and advertised price to the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
“The office of consumer protection and attorney general will be investigating and prosecuting as appropriate,” said Ige.
Caldwell also said that visitors entering the water continue to be a problem. Oahu beaches have been closed since yesterday and lifeguards are not manning their stations, though they continue to patrol the coasts.