Watches Issued for Hawaii as Major Hurricane Lane Turns Toward the Islands

Aug 21, 2018

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When you think of Hawaii, you probably don’t think of hurricanes. And indeed, the tropical paradise has only experienced a handful of hurricanes since the 1950s — with most threats either fizzling out before hitting Hawaii or passing south of the 50th state. Just a couple of weeks ago, Hawaii got another scare when Hurricane Hector found Hawaii in its cone of uncertainty, but residents of the Big Island reported not even getting a drop of rain from the system.

However, Hawaii’s luck might be running out. Major Hurricane Lane is being swept northward toward the islands and is currently packing top sustained winds of 155mph. The islands are expected to start seeing effects of the storm starting on Thursday with landfall probable on Friday.

Despite the nearly Category 5 level maximum sustained winds, the good news is that Hurricane Lane’s wind field is currently quite compact. Hurricane force winds extend no further than 40 miles from the center of circulation with tropical storm force winds extending up to 140 miles from the center.

As of the most recent forecast at 5:00pm ET (11:00am Hawaiian) on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center computes the following probabilities for wind speeds at major locations now through 8:00am local time on Sunday:

Wind probabilities Tropical Storm winds Hurricane winds
Lanai City, Maui 73% 16%
Kailua-Kona, Big Island 73% 12%
South Point, Big Island 77% 12%
Hana, Maui 57% 6%
Lihue, Kauai 63% 7%
Niihau 55% 4%
Barking Sands, Kauai 57% 5%
Kahului, Maui 42% 3%
Honolulu, Oahu 53% 5%
Hilo, Big Island 23% 1%

While winds could cause quite a bit of damage to isolated areas, the widespread threat from the storm is predicted to be the rain. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting “excessive rainfall” from Hurricane Lane. Rain accumulation of 10-15 inches is widely expected with “isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches over the Hawaiian Islands.”

As of 5:00pm Eastern (11:00am Hawaiian time), two airlines have issued weather waivers:

American Airlines

  • Travel dates: August 23-24
  • Airports affected: Kona, Hawaii (KOA) and Kahului, Hawaii (OGG)
  • Must have purchased your ticket by August 20
  • Rebook travel anytime between August 21-27
  • You can’t change your origin or destination city. Must rebook in same cabin or pay the difference.
  • Avoid the phone queue. Changes available on both AA’s website and in the AA app.

Hawaiian Airlines

  • Travel dates: August 21-26
  • Airports covered: Flights departing to/from/within/via the State of Hawaii (LIH/HNL/OGG/JHM/MKK/LNY/ITO/KOA)
  • Must have purchased your ticket by August 21
  • Rebook travel no later than September 9
  • Changes to origin and/or destination or connecting/stopover point will be permitted without change fee and are subject to applicable fare difference.

This storm serves as another reminder that we are in hurricane season. If you’re planning to travel to hurricane-prone areas — or even just currently cancellation-prone areas like the US Northeast — make sure to book the trip with a card that offers solid trip delay and cancellation insurance. I’ll be using my Chase Sapphire Reserve to book flights going forward.

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