Lane downgraded to tropical storm as downpours flood Hawaii’s Big Island

People watch as waves crash along sea cliffs on the southeast shore of Oahu as Hurricane Lane approaches, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, near Honolulu. (AP)
Updated 25 August 2018

Lane downgraded to tropical storm as downpours flood Hawaii’s Big Island

  • The hurricane was forecast to make its nearest approach to land just west of the island chain over the weekend
  • A number of structures on the Big Island were destroyed and some residents were reported to be fleeing their homes

HONOLULU: Hurricane Lane crept closer toward the heart of the Hawaiian islands on Friday as it weakened into a tropical storm while still drenching the Big Island with torrential rains and severe, widespread flooding, weather and civil defense officials said.
Lane, with maximum sustained winds diminishing to near 70 mph (110 kph), was forecast to make its nearest approach to land just west of the island chain over the weekend, bringing tropical storm-force conditions to Maui and the state’s most populous island, Oahu, starting on Friday night.
Farther north, a tropical storm watch was posted for the island of Kauai.
The biggest immediate danger was posed by flooding and mudslides that could grow worse the longer the storm lingers close to the US Pacific island chain, soaking the landscape.
But forecasts made clear that Hawaii had been spared from the threat of its first direct hit by a major hurricane in a quarter of a century, although many residents had already boarded up windows of their homes as a precaution.
Lane was downgraded on Friday to a Category 2 hurricane, then to a Category 1, the lowest ranking on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, as it churned through the Pacific south of Oahu, the National Weather Service said. It was downgraded again to a tropical storm shortly before 5 p.m. local time as its maximum sustained wind speeds fell below 74 mph.
The storm was expected to continue drifting slowly northward and weaken further still before trade winds overtake its forward momentum and begin pushing it sharply off to the west and away from land on Saturday, Weather Service forecaster Leigh Anne Eaton told a news conference in Honolulu.
Forecasts called for Lane, which peaked as a Category 5 hurricane earlier in the week, to diminish into a tropical depression by early on Sunday.
Still, the storm posed a considerable weather hazard to parts of the state, with the island of Hawaii, popularly known as the Big Island, bearing the brunt of torrential downpours from Lane.
More than 2 feet (60 cm) of rain had fallen in a 36-hour period by Friday morning on the Big Island’s windward side, where the Weather Service reported “catastrophic flooding” and wind gusts peaking at 67 mph (108 kph). Eaton said some parts of the island had received nearly 3 feet of rain.
A number of structures on the Big Island were destroyed and some residents were reported to be fleeing their homes, said Melissa Dye, a Weather Service spokeswoman in Honolulu.
Fire department personnel have conducted several rescues of people stranded by high water on the Big Island since Thursday, mostly around its biggest city, Hilo, said Kelly Wooten, a Hawaii County civil defense spokeswoman.
Overnight, the National Guard and fire department rescued six people and their dog, and two hikers were rescued by helicopter near the camping destination of Waimanu Valley, Wooten said. There were no injuries.
She said two Hilo-area neighborhoods were evacuated.
Flash flooding and mudslides on the Big Island have also forced a number of road closures and Governor David Ige urged residents to avoid any unnecessary travel.


LIVE: Davos 2020 Day One - Thunberg slams elites, Trump hails US economic rebound

Updated 18 min 37 sec ago

LIVE: Davos 2020 Day One - Thunberg slams elites, Trump hails US economic rebound

  • Discussion panels featuring a number of high profile figures from the political, business and civil world.
  • Environment and climate issues on agenda, but Iran and Lebanon expected to feature heavily

The World Economic Forum 2020 started on Tuesday in Davos in Switzerland. Greta Thunberg kicked off the three day forum in a panel discussion on Sustainable Path towards a Common Future.

There will be discussion panels featuring a number of high profile figures from the political, business and civil world.

They will discuss a wide range of subjects including the environment and climate issues, but Iran and Lebanon are expected to feature heavily.

Follow Arab News’ coverage below

13:45 - Bollywood superstar and mental health ambassador Deepika Padukone has a very honest and inspiring conversation with World Health Organization's director-general about her own experiences with mental illness and how the stigma surrounding it can be ended...

In 2017, Padukone spoke vividly about her struggle with depression and the stigma that surrounded it. She also described how she decided to speak out, so others wouldn't have to suffer in the same way she did. Watch the Crystal Awardee speaking earlier at Davos:

13:00 - Saudi Arabia's Minister for Communications and IT Abdullah Al-Swaha has been speaking on a panel about the strategic outlook for Middle East economies. He makes the salient point that if countries want their economies to grow, they must focus on youth, technology and the empowerment of women...

11:30 - US President Donald Trump reverted to his role as salesman Tuesday, telling a gathering of the world's top businessmen in the Swiss Alps that he's led a “spectacular” turnaround of the US economy and encouraged them to invest in America.

He reminded the audience that when he spoke here two years ago, early in his presidency, “I told you that we had launched the great American comeback."

“Today I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” the president said.

11:00 - Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson delivered a special message from Pope Francis. He called on everyone to remember that we are all members of one human family, and that we have a moral obligation to care for one another.

And he asked for a renewed ethical approach in the forthcoming discussions, including in the discipline of economics.

10:30 - The historian Yuval Noah Harari struck a pessimistic note at the opening of this session on the technology arms race. 

"On the most shallow level it could be a repeat of the 19thcentury industrial revolution, when the leaders had the chance to dominate the world economically and politically... I understand the current arms race as an imperial arms race... You don't need to send the soldiers in if you have all the data on a country," says Harari.

10:00 - In one of the first sessions of the WEF, Greta Thunberg said the voices of science and youth need to be at the center of the conversations on environment and future during “Forging a Sustainable Path towards a Common Future” panel discussion. 

Read more on her speech hereThunberg condemns climate inaction as Trump joins Davos