Hawaii ‘dodged a bullet,’ as Lane weakens to tropical storm

Hawaii ‘dodged a bullet,’ as Lane weakens to tropical storm
Copyright 2018 CNN

Hawaii residents breathed a sigh of relief Saturday after Hurricane Lane disintegrated into a tropical storm, but authorities warned that its thrashing winds and relentless rain would remain a threat into the weekend.

Lane dumped more than 40 inches of rain in some parts of the Big Island over several days, sending residents fleeing life-threatening flash flooding and landslides.

Lane’s threat came as Maui residents also battled two brush fires, including one that caused evacuations in a resort area.

It weakened to a tropical storm Friday, a major downgrade for what was a Category 3 hurricane just a day earlier.

Further weakening was forecast through the weekend, with Lane expected to become “a remnant low” by late Saturday or Sunday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said.

The islands “dodged a bullet,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said. While they will not face the full fury of a Category 3 hurricane, residents and tourists should remain vigilant as heavy rains, flash floods and landslides are still a threat.

Saturday, Lane’s maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph with higher gusts, according to the center’s latest bulletin. The storm is 195 miles (310 kilometers) southwest of Honolulu.

The storm is moving west near 9 mph (15 km/h), the center said, and this motion is expected to continue through Monday with an increase in forward speed.

All tropical storm watches and warning associated with Lane have been canceled, Hawaii’s Gov. David Ige and the National Weather Service announced Saturday.

The threat of localized rains will continue through the weekend. Lihue and Port Allen Airports as well as Daniel K. Inouye International Airport are all under normal operations with no reported damage.

All previously reported landslides and fallen trees on Hana Highway have been cleared, the governor tweeted.

Lane has had little impact on Kīlauea Volcano, which has been erupting since May, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Experts noted minor rockfalls at the summit and increased steaming from two vents. Whiteout conditions are also possible on the new lava field because of the steam produced by heavy rainfall on hot lava flows.

Ige said there is still a potential for flooding and first responders remain on the job. Tropical Storm Lane’s slow, lingering movement means it will dump more rain in the area, potentially leading to more flooding, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

Despite the flooding and landslides making headlines nationwide, many tourists were unfazed, with nearly 300,000 currently visiting the state, US Sen. Mazie Hirono said.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct that Kirk Caldwell is the mayor of Honolulu.