Hawaii residents rushed to stores to stock up on bottled water, ramen, toilet paper, and other supplies as they faced the threat of heavy rain, flash flooding, and high surf as a strengthening hurricane continued to churn toward the state. On Tuesday night, the National Weather Service announced that Hurricane Lane had become a Category 5 hurricane, which means that it's likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds 157mph or above. The hurricane is about 500 miles southeast of Honolulu, the AP reports, and had been moving west, but it's expected to turn northwest toward the state Wednesday. Earlier Tuesday, the weather service issued a hurricane warning for Hawaii island and a hurricane watch for Oahu, Maui, and other smaller islands, meaning tropical storm-force winds, excessive rain, and large swells could arrive starting Wednesday.
"It is much too early to confidently determine which, if any, of the main Hawaiian islands will be directly impacted by Lane," the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said, adding the storm will move very close to or over the islands from Thursday through Saturday. Even if the center of Lane doesn't make landfall, the islands could be walloped with rain and wind. Public schools on the Big Island and in Maui County are closed Wednesday until further notice. Hawaii Gov. David Ige is allowing nonessential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave from Wednesday to Friday. Employees on Hawaii and Maui islands who work in disaster response, as well as in hospitals and prisons, are required to report to work, the governor said.
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