With emergency officials upgrading the severity of the storm's impact to Hawaii Island and Maui County to a Hurricane Warning, county civil defense agencies urged HIDOE to close campuses as a safety precaution.
Due to threats posed by the incoming Hurrican Lane, the Government of Canada has issued a travel warning for all five Hawaiin islands.
Expect periods of heavy rainfall, especially along the southeast and east facing slopes, the weather service said.
Hurricane Lane has grown to a category 5 storm as it approaches Hawaii with potential for torrential rain, flash flooding and landslides, forecasters said.
The Category 4 storm's unsafe center could make landfall this week, but even if it doesn't, it should draw close to the islands Thursday through Saturday, bringing destructive winds and as many as 20 inches of rain onshore, forecasters said.
While the Big Island, at most immediate risk from Lane, has been hit by tropical depressions and storms, it also has never been struck directly by a hurricane-strength storm in modern records.
"The president is deeply concerned for the well-being of all Hawaiians and has directed FEMA and administration officials to remain in close coordination with the state of Hawaii and stand ready to support them in whatever they need", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Wednesday. "I've not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I've seen with this storm".
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"Slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Lane is forecast to remain a risky hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands", the CPHC said.
Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier in Honolulu says winds slowed overnight from 259 to 250 km/h prompting a downgrade of the hurricane from a Category 5 to a Category 4.
Residents are stocking up on essentials and have been remembering how Hawaii was hit by a devastating hurricane in 1992.
The U.S. Coast Guard is reminding the public to stay off the water when hurricane or tropical storm force winds are present, and to stay clear of beaches.
State offices on Hawaii Island and Maui will be closed Wednesday through Friday, as the governor announced that nonessential state employees in the two counties will be put on administrative leave. Hurricane watches were in effect for other islands as of press time.
Residents on Kauai who are preparing for Lane vividly remember the destruction caused by Iniki 26 years ago.
"This storm is fairly strong, even if the eye itself, the center of the hurricane, is offshore, there's still quite a lot of effects", he said.