Tropical Storm Lane: Hawaii battered by torrential rains

Hurricane Lane weakens to tropical storm but remains a threat

Hawaii emerged Saturday from the threat of a potentially devastating hurricane after flooding forced evacuations on some islands but damage appeared less than feared despite historic amounts of rain. No storm-related deaths have been reported, though Big Island authorities said they plucked families from flood waters and landslides had closed roads.

Tropical Storm Lane, once known as Hurricane Lane, began to break apart as it veered west into the open Pacific, leaving behind sighs of relief and plenty of clean-up, especially on the Big Island where rainfall totals approached 4 feet.

The National Weather Service canceled all storm warnings for the state, several hours after shopkeepers in Honolulu's tourist-heavy areas started taking down plywood meant to protect windows if the storm had made it that far. Preliminary figures from the weather service show that Lane dropped the fourth-highest amount of rain for a hurricane to hit the United States since 1950.

Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas a year ago, topped the list.The storm's outer bands dumped as much as 45 inches on the mostly rural Big Island, measurements showed. The main town of Hilo, with 43,000 people, was flooded Friday with waist-high water and authorities said they rescued people from more than 20 homes overnight.

Storm had little effect on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Tropical Storm Lane had little effect on the eruption of Kilauea volcano on the Big Island. Officials on Saturday said the biggest impacts involved minor rock falls at the summit and increased steaming from vents.

The observatory said it lost communication with several monitoring stations in the past two days but the losses only slightly reduced its ability to assess volcanic conditions. Whiteout conditions could occur on the new lava field due to steam produced by heavy rainfall on still-hot lava flows.

Warnings dropped as Lane turns away from Hawaii

The National Weather Service has dropped all warnings for Tropical Storm Lane, saying it is now moving away from Hawaii. The weather service said Saturday the storm has turned west, reducing the threat to the state.

Lane had been a Category 5 hurricane just a few days ago but has been steadily weakening as it neared the islands. The storm currently is packing winds with gusts up to 50 mph, but those are expected to weaken over the next two days as Lane moves west in the Pacific Ocean.

Maui fire 80 percent contained after heavy rain

Maui firefighters say a wildfire that rapidly spread as Lane bore down on their island is now 80 percent contained. Maui County Fire Battalion Chief Michael Werner said Saturday the fire has burned 2,000 acres in the Lahaina area. Werner said firefighters are beating back flare-ups.

He said the island got heavy rain overnight which helped douse the flames.

The fire spread into the mountains behind Lahaina. Werner said firefighters usually use helicopters to fight blazes there because of the steep terrain but couldn't do that because of the high winds.

People rescued from 20 homes on Big Island

Authorities rescued people from more than 20 homes on the Big Island overnight as Tropical Storm Lane drenched the island with more rain, Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe said Saturday. First responders weren't able to reach a family of four in the Mountain View area because water levels were too high, Okabe said.

Okabe is hopeful the rescuers will be able to rescue the family as the weather improves. Otherwise, firefighters may send in a helicopter or call in the National Guard. He said all the rescues occurred in the east side of the Big Island.

Landslides and pooling water forced three highways to shut down overnight. Only Highway 11 from Hilo toward South Point was still closed early Saturday.

Flood waters cascade down a road in Hilo, Hawaii, U.S., August 24, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. Hawaii Science and Technology Museum via REUTERS

​Winds die down, rain still a threat in Hawaii

Meteorologists are warning that heavy rains could still wallop some Hawaiian Islands with flash flooding and punishing winds. Lane dumped nearly 3 feet of rain on parts of the Big Island of Hawaii over the past two days, forcing residents to flee their homes in waist-high water and officials to clear a series of landslides.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell warned that residents shouldn't let their guard down, but said he was happy to hear the storm deteriorated. "The good news is Lane got weak and fell apart. We dodged a bullet," he said at a news conference on Friday.

Stormwater flows through a drainage system after Hurricane Lane in Hilo, Hawaii, on August 24, 2018. Hawaii Science and Technology Museum via Reuters​

FEMA says Tropical Storm Lane still dangerous

Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA), urged residents to remain vigilant now that Lane has become a tropical storm.

"Today's message to the citizens of Hawaii is don't let your guard down," Long said during a telephone briefing in Washington. "Hawaii is not in the clear from Tropical Storm Lane at this point."

He said torrential rains will be the largest threat facing Hawaii during the next 48 hours.

"We are standing by to continue our support for the response and eventually the recovery efforts that are taking place," he added.

Wildfire damages 7 homes in West Maui

At least seven homes were damaged by a fast-moving wildfire in West Maui. More than 100 homes were forced to evacuate, CBS affiliate KGMB reports. The Lahaina Fire scorched more than 1,500 acres as of Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a separate brush fire in Kaanapali burned about 800 acres on Friday morning before it was contained. The blaze forced the relocation of 26 evacuees at an emergency storm shelter.

Lane lashes Hawaii's Big Island

Lane continued lashed the Big Island Friday with torrential downpours, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reported. The Big Island appears to have taken the brunt of Lane. More than three feet of rain in some places triggered widespread flooding and closed roads.

The main town of Hilo, population 43,000, was flooded Friday with waist-high water as landslides shut down roads.

Margaret Collins, 69, woke up Thursday night to sounds in her Hilo backyard.

"So I got up out of bed and looked out my bedroom window and saw water 3 feet high gushing past my window," she said.

"And that's when I realized I was standing in water."

Collins called a neighbor for help, who crawled through bushes to bring her out of the house, half-carrying her as she clutched a plastic bag with medication.

The water knocked down a cement wall and lifted her truck out of the carport, sending it toward her neighbor's house, she said.

"My house is completely inundated with mud-water," said Collins, who was told the damage wouldn't be covered by insurance. She hopes she can get federal assistance.

Blaze breaks out at Oahu power plant

More than 100 customers lost power Friday as firefighters battled a wildfire near Kahe Power Plant on Oahu. The fire started around noon local time (6 p.m. ET), and was caused when two high voltage lines came in contact with one another due to storm winds -- sparking the blaze, CBS affiliate KGMB reports.

Officials said the flames came within 10 feet of several homes in the Kahe Point area at one point.

Fire Capt. Scot Seguirant said there was a fire break around the plant, so it is not threatened. At least one person was been treated for smoke inhalation.

Brisk winds were complicating efforts to fight the fire, he said. And the strong winds were preventing water drops from the air.

"It's definitely been challenging," he said. "The winds are not only strong, but unpredictable in direction."

CBS/AP

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