Hurricane hunters offer incredible view of ferocious Hurricane Lane

Major Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 storm, is heading toward Hawaii, forecasters warn

The centre of the storm is expected to track "dangerously" close to or over the islands between Thursday and Saturday, the NHC said.

But Hurricane Lane looks poised to bring much more significant impacts to the state, as the forecast puts the storm very close to the islands, with a direct landfall is possible later this week.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Hawaii county while a hurricane watch has been issued for Maui county.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Hawaii and Maui counties - meaning hurricane conditions are expected there.

A hurricane warning has been issued for the Big Island, including Hilo, and hurricane watches are in place for Maui and Oahu, including Honolulu. Honolulu, the state's largest city and capital, is on the island of O'ahu. Unlike Hurricane Hector, which skirted the Hawaiian Islands earlier this month, Lane is projected to veer north-northwest and drench the Aloha State's most populated areas. Heavy rainfall associated with Lane is expected to affect portions of the Hawaiian Islands from late today into the weekend, would could lead to major flash flooding and landslides.

The weather service in a special statement said tropical-storm-force winds could begin as early as Wednesday afternoon or evening on the Big Island.

On Wednesday morning, Hurricane Lane was approximately 800 kilometres southeast of Honolulu, the U.S. National Weather Service said.

With maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour, Lane was upgraded to the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale as it surged westerly across the Pacific Ocean toward the Big Island.

Gov. David Ige (D) said he will allow nonessential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave through Friday. Hawaii-based Navy aircraft will be secured in hangars or flown to other airfields to avoid the effects of the hurricane.

The last category five storm to come this close to Hawaii was John in 1994.

Lisa Bucci, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shared a video of Hurricane Lane from a research plane, noting: "It's a strong and unsafe storm".

"Even if the center of Lane were to remain offshore, it is important to remember that impacts from a hurricane can extend well away from the center".

Lane is only the second category 5 hurricane on record to pass within 560km of Hawaii, according to the NWS.

Parts of South River Road in the Horseman's Parkway area are closed due to flooding on the roadway.

"Please take this threat seriously and hopefully when this is over you can say, 'ha, we did all that for nothing, '" Kim said. Given 27-28C water temps, shear is a key to weakening it.

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