Hawaii may face direct hit from Hurricane Lane at late week

The threat of a direct hit from Major Hurricane Lane in the Hawaiian Islands late this week is increasing, along with the threats for dangerous seas, heavy rainfall, flash flooding and mudslides.

Lane is currently at Category 4 strength, but is expected to gradually weaken as it tracks westward through the central Pacific Ocean.

Lane is following in the footsteps of Major Hurricane Hector from earlier this month. It is on a path that may put it on a collision course with Hawaii's Big Island or the island of O'ahu late this week. At this time, AccuWeather meteorologists are still expecting Lane to track about 100 miles southwest of the Big Island and 60 miles southwest of O'ahu, but the probability of a direct hit is increasing.

While Hector maintained a straight westward course, Lane is forecast to curve sharply to the north or northwest by midweek.

Although Lane may only be a Category 1 hurricane when it strikes or passes close by the Hawaiian Islands, it will still be capable of bringing damaging winds and dumping as much as 10 inches of rain on parts of the islands through late week.

Boaters and swimmers are being put on alert that Lane will not pass the Hawaiian Islands unnoticed.

"Even though Lane will weaken, it will generate rough surf and rip currents along the south- and east-facing shores of Hawaii," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis.

During this week, seas will gradually build across the islands as large swells spread westward and northward away from Lane.

It is from Wednesday to Friday, at which time Lane will be close by or over the Hawaiian Islands, that seas and surf will be the most dangerous. All advisories or beach closures issued by authorities and lifeguards should be heeded as the threat for rip currents will ramp up significantly.

"It can become dangerous for ocean vessels south of the islands as well as small craft attempting to navigate the inter-island channels," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

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In addition to the sea hazards, Lane may bring damaging winds to parts of the island chain, especially in areas along and to the east of its path. Damage to trees, power lines, homes and businesses will be possible.

Flooding rainfall may also impact the Big Island and/or the northwestern islands of O'ahu and Kauai late this week and into the weekend. Enough rain is possible to cause dangerous mudslides and flash flooding across a large portion of the islands.

There is a chance that Lane tracks over western parts of the Big Island and then regains a westward motion, which would take it across the rest of the island chain.

"O'ahu, Kauai, Ni'ihau and Nihoa could face tropical storm conditions with flooding downpours and gusty winds from squalls," Sosnowski said.

Seas and surf around these islands are likely to be the most rough during the end of the week.

Coastal communities should be prepared for flooding at high tide and the potential for an impactful storm surge.

"Additional threats from tropical storms and hurricanes are likely into the autumn, due to a developing El Niño," Sosnowski said.

Because El Niño is a plume of warmer-than-average waters over the tropical Pacific Ocean, the warm water just south of Hawaii can sustain more hurricanes than average over the eastern and central Pacific and cause them to be stronger in nature.