It's expected to sweep just west of Hawaii's Big Island later today, and authorities warn it could bring a year's worth of rain to parts of Hawaii within just hours.
"People were buying cases of tiny water bottles".
Excessive rainfall could fall in amounts greater than 30 inches, which could produce life threatening floods and landslides. It is then predicted to move directly toward Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu.
"So there is no other way for the forecasters to see what exactly is inside the storm and what's going on until we get there", US Airforce Hurricane Hunter Kimberly Spusta said. Only two hurricanes have made landfall in Hawaii since the 1950s: Hurricane Dot in 1959, and Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
Public schools were closed for the rest of the week, and local government workers were told to stay home unless they are essential employees.
There are only a few storms in the Central Pacific.
The Category 4 storm could bring risky surf of 20 feet and a storm surge of up to 4 feet, forecasters said. Others have been filing up propane tanks and waiting in lines that circle around the block to get gas for their cars.
Hurricane Lane is the biggest weather threat to Hawaii in decades
At last count there were more than 2,000 unsheltered homeless people on Oahu.
And many others are leaving.
The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Hawaii was Category 4 Iniki, which made landfall on Kauai island on September 11, 1992, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
More than 20 inches of rain is expected in some locations forecasters said. The ships will remain at sea until the storm threat passes.
The storm's exact path isn't certain, although it's expected to make a critical westward turn into the Pacific.
"The combination of a risky storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels by as much as 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels along south and west facing shores near the center of Lane", the hurricane center said. The storm is slowly weakening, but remains a powerful Category 4 hurricane.
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