Much of Hawaii under hurricane warning; heavy rains hit Big Island

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Much of the state remains under a hurricane warning as Lane continues its slow march toward the islands as a massive Category 4 storm.

Kauai County, meanwhile, is under a hurricane watch.

The hurricane warning, in effect for the Big Island, Maui County and Oahu, means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours, while a hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.

On Wednesday night, heavy rains buffeted the Big Island, triggering flooding in some spots and forcing the closure of Bayfront Highway in Hilo and several other roadways. The National Weather Service said rainfall rates of 1 to 3 inches an hour were being recorded in some spots.

Heavy showers were also starting to fall in parts of Maui, though there were no immediate reports of major problems.

Forecasters warn Hurricane Lane’s “very close” pass on Thursday and Friday is slated to bring strong winds, torrential showers and monster surf to the entire island chain.

At 11 p.m. Wednesday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Hurricane Lane remained a Category 4 storm, packing maximum sustained winds near 145 mph with higher gusts.

Lane was centered about 235 miles south-southwest of Kailua-Kona — or 350 miles south of Honolulu — and had slowed to just 7 mph.

Hurricane-force winds extend 40 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.

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