A powerful hurricane that threatened Hawaii for a week rapidly disintegrated to become a tropical storm south of Honolulu. But meteorologists warned heavy rains could still wallop the 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 said people need to be vigilant and not let their guard down. But 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.
Lane roared toward the island chain early this week as the most powerful type of hurricane measured: a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. That meant it was likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds 157 mph or above. But upper-level winds known as shear swiftly tore the storm apart.
Big Island downgraded to tropical storm warning
As of 5 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET), Lane was located about 180 miles southwest of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island, and 240 miles south of Honolulu. Maximum sustained winds were recorded at 120 mph, keeping it at a Category 3 storm.
A hurricane warning remained in effect for Oahu and Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kahoolawe. Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin over portions of Maui County tonight, with hurricane conditions expected in some areas Friday, the National Hurricane Center said.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Kauai County, which includes the islands of Kauai and Niihau.
Tropical storm conditions are expected to last on portions of the Big Island Thursday night into Friday. The Big Island was downgraded to a tropiacl storm warning as the storm moved north.
Hospitals prepare for surge in patients
Hawaii's hospitals prepared for a surge in patients as Lane neared, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reports. The director of Hawaii's Department of Health told KGMB that having enough hospital space in case of a huge influx is a major challenge.
"Basically, our health care system is very fragile in that respect. Our hospitals are full. They can't afford to keep beds open for people in the event of storms like this," said Bruce Anderson, director of the Hawaii Department of Health. "Fortunately, in this case we actually have a federal agency that has sent two teams here, 30 people on each team, with resources to help support establishing medical facilities if need be."
The Queen's Medical Center and its West Oahu facility postponed all elective procedures and surgeries on Friday and Saturday, KGMB reports. The hospitals are stocked up with supplies and the generators are ready. Employees have gone through training to deal with natural disasters or any large influx of patients.
"We're a level-one trauma center, the only one in the state, and we're really prepared for that. Then there's after the event, if it's really catastrophic, you see things such as dehydration, exhaustion, infections," said Dr. Leslie Chun, chief medial officer at The Queen's Medical Center.
Windward Oahu, Adventist Health Castle on Oahu said it had activated its 24/7 incident command center and has supplies ready for staff and patients. Other area hospitals also said they were ready if needed.
Lane on "perilously close" track to Hawaii, forecasters say
Forecasters say Lane's current track has the storm coming "perilously close" the main Hawaiian Islands Thursday into Friday as a hurricane, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reports. In addition to downpours, the hurricane is pushing up wave heights and could mean strong winds.
"Hurricane Lane is still a dangerous and powerful storm," said Gov. David Ige, in a news conference on Thursday.
"Lane, while it's been downgraded, is wide and very moist and it's going to hang around for a while," said Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Torrential rain shaping up as main event
As Hurricane Lane continued to trudge along late Thursday into Friday, its slow pace was emerging as the biggest concern.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center, in Honolulu said, "Excessive rainfall associated with this slow moving hurricane will continue to impact the Hawaiian Islands into the weekend, leading to significant and life-threatening flash flooding and landslides."
"Lane is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches, with localized amounts of 30 to 40 inches possible over portions of the Hawaiian Islands. Over two feet of rain has already fallen at a few locations on the windward side of the Big Island."
According to the center, as of 11 p.m Thursday local time, Lane was about 215 miles south of Honolulu and 165 miles southwest of Kailua-Kona, moving north at 6 mph.
Maximum sustained winds were almost 120 mph, with higher gusts.
"On the latest forecast track, the center of Lane will move over, or dangerously close to portions of the main Hawaiian islands late Friday and Friday night," the center said. "Some weakening is forecast from Friday through late Saturday, but Lane is expected to remain a hurricane as it approaches the islands."
Hurricane-force winds were extending outward up to 35 miles from Lane's center and tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 125 miles.
Tourists "back" out of trouble
Emergency crews rescued five California tourists from a home they were renting in Hilo after a nearby gulch overflowed and it flooded Thursday.
Suzanne Demerais said a tiny waterfall and small stream flowed near the home when she first arrived with four of her friends from the Los Angeles area. But the stream turned into a torrent and the river rose rapidly over 24 hours.
Hawaii County firefighters, who were in touch with the home's owner, decided to evacuate the group before the water rose further. They floated the five out on their backs, Demerais said.
Lane triggers major flooding on Big Island
The monster storm is expected to bring torrential rains to island communities. That was exactly what the Big Island saw through much of the day Thursday, reports CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV.
Heavy rains that started late Wednesday on the island triggered widespread flooding and evacuations, and closed several main thoroughfares.
Over the course of the day Thursday, several communities had already seen more than a foot of rain. Waiakea saw more than 23 inches, while Hakalau saw over two-and-a-half feet.
Saddle Road above Hilo was inundated with water, and officials with the Hawaii Department of Transportation reported water levels two to three feet deep.
Despite the severe weather conditions on the Big Island, only 14 residents opted to stay in state shelters, according to a count on Thursday night from officials with the Red Cross.
A flash flood warning remains in effect for the Big Island, and forecasters said the water levels on the Wailuku River rose an incredible 7 feet from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
1,500 spend night in shelters
Red Cross officials say more than 1,500 people across the state stayed in shelters Thursday night as they waited out the storm, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reports. The largest number sought shelter in Oahu, where 20 shelters hosted about 1,100 people overnight.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says public schools can serve as shelters but most are not strong enough to withstand hurricane-force winds. Authorities are evaluating which school facilities are strong enough and in safe areas.
FEMA briefing: "Please heed the warnings"
Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service held a briefing about the hurricane response in Washington Friday morning.
"Please heed the warnings. It's very dangerous to be outside," FEMA Administrator Brock Long said. "Bottom line is that we're going to see torrential rains that could occur for the next 48 to 72 hours."
He warned that it will be "a marathon."
"The big island in Hawaii, Hawaii counties received in some cases 2 feet of rain already. And unfortunately there's more to come," Long said.
The weather service said Lane was centered about 160 miles southwest of Kona, on Hawaii's Big Island.
Meteorologist Steve Goldstein said its track is expected to continue through the day before turning west on Saturday. Lane will remain at hurricane strength, "dangerously close" to Hawaii through the day Friday and Saturday, while heavy rainfall and flooding will continue even after the eye of the storm passes.
Hurricane watches and warnings
Friday morning, the islands of Oahu and Maui remained under a hurricane warning, while Kauai was under a hurricane watch.
The hurricane warning for the Big Island has been dropped, and the island is now under a tropical storm warning.
CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reports heavy rains that started late Wednesday have triggered widespread flooding and evacuations on the Big Island, and have closed off several main thoroughfares.
Brushfire on Maui forces relocation of a shelter
A brushfire on Hawaii's island of Maui has forced the relocation of a shelter for people who were staying there as Hurricane Lane approaches.
Maui County officials said there was a rapidly spreading fire in the community of Lahaina Friday on the island's western side. Nearby residents were being evacuated.
Officials, as a precaution, moved 26 people who evacuated because of the hurricane from a shelter at a Lahaina school to a civic center. Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said it's not clear if the fire is hurricane related.
Flooding closes major roads on Hawaii's Big Island
The hurricane is taking a toll on roads on Hawaii's Big Island, with three major roads closed due to flash flooding, according to officials. Officials said early Friday morning local time that only one highway was available for travel across the island.
Numerous secondary roads also were closed.
Multiple landslides could force more closures as rain pounds the island. More than 30 inches of rain associated with the hurricane had fallen on the Big Island as of early Friday, with some areas recording 35 inches in 48 hours.
Thousands lose power across Hawaii
About 6,000 customers in Maui's Lahaina community have lost power, though some have had it restored, Hawaiian Electric spokesman Peter Rosegg said Friday.
Nearly 2,600 customers are without power on Molokai, a small island with about 7,000 residents. Rosegg said they may be without it for a long time. Power outages affected about 4,000 people on the Big Island, which has seen nearly 3 feet of rain over two days.
More than 3,000 lost power overnight on Oahu as strong winds downed tree branches, but most of them had service quickly restored. Rosegg said crews are trying to restore power to as many as possible before the worst of the storm hits the state's most populated island. He said workers will be out until it's no longer safe.
U.S. officials preparing for severe flooding
U.S. officials say they're preparing for severe flooding as the hurricane hits Hawaii. Three urban search-and-rescue teams are in the state. There's also food for up to six days and at least 80 generators, with more available after the storm clears, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials said Friday.
FEMA also plans to move supplies to the islands hit hardest after the storm. It said about 2,000 people are in shelters, mostly in Oahu.
The agency is also tracking the brush fire in Maui that forced people to evacuate a storm shelter and said dozens of Coast Guard ships and helicopters on the island are ready to assist.
It's unclear what caused the fire, which ignited as rain and wind lashed the island.
Hawaii officials warn about risks from runoff
Hawaii health officials warn that Hurricane Lane has caused storm-water runoff to enter the ocean, posing possible health risks to swimmers and surfers.
The state Department of Health issued a statewide advisory Friday about brown water. Officials warn the public to stay out of floodwaters and storm-water runoff because of possible overflowing cesspools, sewers and manholes, along with chemicals, pesticides and dead animals from flood debris.
They say if the water is brown, stay out.
Dozens of people are still swimming and surfing off the famed Waikiki Beach in Honolulu despite police or fire vehicles blasting out periodic warnings that the beach is closed and everyone needs to leave.
Officials say damage is potentially catastrophic
With rain pounding Hawaii's Big Island, officials who have seen the damage call it potentially catastrophic. Inside one home in Hilo, there appeared to be a waterfall, cascading down the stairwell, CBS News' Mireya Villarreal reports.
Hurricane Lane was moving so slowly that band after band of torrential downpours were continuing to lash the Big Island on Friday. The storm was heading directly toward Hawaii's most populated islands of Oahu and Maui. On Waikiki, tourists were being warned to stay out of the water.
A new threat was also coming from tropical force winds that were pushing a large wildfire on Maui near Lahaina. Five inches of rain were in the forecast Friday night, but until it falls, there is little to stop the fire.
Big Island resident says he’s trapped in home
A Big Island resident says he's trapped inside his home Friday in an exclusive neighborhood with million-dollar homes. Joel Lawson, who lives in Hilo, said he can't get out because "there's a river at the end of our driveway."
Lawson heard what sounded like bricks falling Thursday night. It turned out to be strong water that made the pavement peel up and left a gaping hole. He said he watched as firefighters used ropes to pull out two people trapped in a car that got stuck in the hole.
Authorities knocked on his door and said he should voluntarily evacuate, but he's staying put because he has electricity and food.
Rare snails moved as hurricane approaches
Wildlife officials have transferred about 2,000 rare Hawaiian snails from a mountain marsh to offices in Honolulu as Hurricane Lane approaches. Some of the snails are the last of their kind, like one named George.
He's the sole remaining Achatinella apexfulva in captivity. Department of Land and Natural Resources staffers are trying to keep him safe in case he is able to reproduce.
Some snails being moved have a little more breathing room than George, with some species numbering in the teens or hundreds.
Entomologist Cynthia King says the snails are being moved because they are biologically important and have a place in Hawaiian culture. During their stay in downtown Honolulu, they will get the royal treatment. A staffer will spend the night and place ice around the cages in case the air conditioning cuts out.
Trump speaks to Gov. Ige
President Trump spoke to Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Friday, the White House said. Mr. Trump tweeted the federal government is "is fully committed to helping the people of Hawaii."
The White House said Mr. Trump and Ige discussed preparedness, emergency protective and response measures.
Mr. Trump has already declared a disaster declaration for Hawaii.
Storm-weary Kauai batters down
Residents of Kauai, battered by historic floods in April, hunkered down as the Central Pacific Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for the island. For much of Friday, Kauai has had gray skies and blustery winds, but weary residents said they weren't taking any chances, KGMB reports.
Crystal Battulyan told KGMB boarded up their home in Puhi earlier this week and got all the necessary supplies for their hurricane kit.
"We wasn't sure with Iniki and with the route this one is taking with Hurricane Lane, it's so unpredictable," she said.
In April, the National Weather Service recorded 28.1 inches of rainfall in Hanalei between in 24 hours. The record for a 24-hour period in Hanalei was set in 2012 at 28.54 inches. Hundreds were airlifted off the island.
"I've lived here all my life and this is one of the most serious situations on Kauai," Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho told Hawaii News Now. "Things are just terrible. What we're really focusing on right now is search and rescue ... and a thorough damage assessment."
Lane becomes a tropical storm
Lane was downgraded to a tropical storm at 11 p.m. Friday, but forecasters warned that "excessive rainfall remains possible into the weekend, which could lead to additional flash flooding and landslides."
A flash flood warning remained in effect for the island of Maui, the county said. A landslide on Hana Highway at mile marker 20 led the road to be closed in both directions, the Hawaii Department of Transportation said. The highway reopened by 6 p.m. local time (12 a.m. ET).
As much as 3 feet of rain in 48 hours
By late Friday, the National Weather Service said Lane had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph as it slowly twisted west about 120 miles south of Honolulu.
The outer bands of the hurricane dumped as much as 3 feet of rain in two days on the mostly rural Big Island.
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.