HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Lane continues its slow march toward the island chain as a dangerous Category 3 storm, and forecasters warn the cyclone is expected to remain a hurricane as it moves over or comes “dangerously close” to portions of the state through Friday. 

At 11 p.m. Thursday, Oahu and Maui remain under a hurricane warning, while Kauai was under a hurricane watch.

The hurricane warning for the Big Island has been dropped; the island is now under a tropical storm warning.

On Thursday night, Hurricane Lane was situated about 215 miles south of Honolulu. While Lane has lost some of its steam, it’s still packing a punch — with maximum sustained winds near 120 mph with higher gusts.

Lane is churning toward the north at 6 mph, and isn’t expected to turn to the west until Saturday.

In the meantime, the monster storm is expected to bring torrential rains to island communities.

That was exactly what the Big Island saw through much of the day. 

Heavy rains that started late Wednesday on the island triggered widespread flooding and evacuations, and closed several main thoroughfares. 

Over the course of the day, several communities had already seen more than a foot of rain. Waiakea saw more than 23 inches, while Hakalau saw over two and a half feet of rain, 

Saddle Road above Hilo was inundated with water, and officials with the Hawaii Department of Transportation reported water levels two to three feet deep.

Despite the severe weather conditions on the Big Island, only 14 residents opted to stay in state shelters, according to a count on Thursday night from officials with the Red Cross.

A flash flood warning remains in effect for the Big Island, and forecasters said the water levels on the Wailuku River rose an incredible 7 feet from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Maui was also seeing heavy rains Thursday and blustery conditions, and those high winds started being felt on Oahu late Thursday.

Forecasters say Lane’s current track has the storm coming “perilously close” the main Hawaiian Islands Thursday into Friday as a hurricane. In addition to downpours, the hurricane is pushing up wave heights and could mean strong winds.

“Hurricane Lane is still a dangerous and powerful storm,” said Gov. David Ige, in a news conference on Thursday.

Added Mayor Kirk Caldwell: “Lane, while it’s been downgraded, is wide and very moist and it’s going to hang around for a while.”

Hurricane-force winds extend 35 miles from the center of the storm, while tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

Forecasters said Lane’s eye passed over a buoy about 250 miles southwest of the Big Island on Thursday morning, and a peak wind speed of 107 mph was recorded.

“The slow movement of Lane also greatly increases the threat for prolonged heavy rainfall and extreme rainfall totals,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said. “This is expected to lead to major, life-threatening flash flooding and landslides over all Hawaiian Islands.”

[Big Island sees more than a foot of rain — and the heavy showers won’t let up]
[Heavy rains, brisk winds make a mess on Maui]
[Here are all the active weather alerts associated with Hurricane Lane]

Bob Ballard, with the hurricane center, said Thursday night into Friday is “really clinch time” as the hurricane draws close to the islands.

“We do want people to be prepared,” he said. 

The good news: Lane is weakening as it encounters wind shear and other environmental factors. 

On Tuesday night, Lane became one of only two recorded Category 5 hurricanes to pass within 350 miles of the Big Island’s South Point. The last: Hurricane John in 1994.

Go to the Hawaii News Now Weather page for the latest forecast or check out our Interactive radar.
To get the latest weather conditions on your mobile device click HERE.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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