CBSN

Why Hurricane Lane, approaching Hawaii, is so rare

Hawaii is bracing for Hurricane Lane, which could be the first hurricane to make landfall on the islands in decades. The rare storm, which reached Category 5 Tuesday before dropping back to a Category 4 Wednesday, is the closest a Category 5 hurricane has ever gotten to Hawaii.

CBS News weather producer David Parkinson said Lane is already much closer than Hurricane Hector, which reached Category 4 as it brushed south of Hawaii earlier this month.

"The only other [hurricane] that has made landfall is Iniki, and that was in 92'," Parkinson said. "Hawaii wasn't even a state when Dot made landfall in 1959, so that's… the collective muscle memory is not there on the Hawaiian Islands in terms of how those all compare in terms of paths. We're already closer than Hector. We're already stronger than Hector."

lane.png
CBS News

CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV reports a hurricane warning was issued Wednesday for Maui County and a hurricane watch for Kauai County. Hawaii County remains under a hurricane warning, and Oahu under a hurricane watch.

Up to two feet of rain is possible, including in the region where the Kilauea volcano caused massive destruction and forced evacuations on the Big Island earlier this summer. Maui could see 18 inches of rain, and Oahu could get hit with 10 to 15 inches of rain. Since Lane is moving relatively slowly, there's the potential for devastating flooding.

"Even if you don't get the winds materializing, here's the thing, winds are on the low end... but they're saying it's possible they can get to 110 if the storm takes a closer path to the island, so that's why we need to be really careful," Parkinson said.

As CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas reported, scientists have been monitoring rising seawater temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, because that could bring hurricanes closer to states that normally don't get hit. Researchers at the Scripps Pier in California have already recorded water temperatures as high as 79.5 degrees, about 10 degrees above normal.

Oahu, the most populated Hawaiian island, has never taken a direct hit from a hurricane.

"This is a very serious storm so please take it seriously," Parkinson said. "You should have a hurricane preparedness kit, but if you don't make sure you have flashlights, batteries, food, water and if you are right along the water in a storm surge zone, you need to think about getting away from it."