KAILUA-KONA — Hurricane Lane re-intensified to a Category 4 storm Monday as it continued to churn toward Hawaii.
Packing 130 mph winds, Lane featured “an impressive, distinct eye” as the storm tracked west at 12 mph some 515 miles southeast of Hilo as of 5 p.m. Monday, according to forecasters at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 30 miles while tropical storm-force winds reached out up to 125 miles from Lane’s center.
The storm’s westward motion is expected to continue through Tuesday as it follows a subtropical ridge north of the state. Thereafter, a turn toward the northwest is expected Wednesday as that ridge weakens.
However, the outlook beyond 48 hours is less clear because weather models are differing on when a new ridge could develop to steer the storm and wind shear could increase to help weaken the cyclone, forecasters said.
“The rather large uncertainty in the track forecast necessitates close attention by interests in the Hawaiian Islands over the next couple of days,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Monday. “It is important to not focus your attention on the exact forecast track, and be prepared for changes to the forecast.”
According to data provided by the center, Lane’s expected to be about 450 miles south-southeast of Hilo by Tuesday evening and by 5 p.m. Wednesday, the storm’s expected to be about 280 miles south of Hilo and 220 miles south-southeast of South Point.
By Thursday evening, forecasters expect to downgrade Lane to a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds as it churns some 140 miles south of South Point. By 5 p.m. Friday, the storm’s expected to be downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds as it heads northwest more than 200 miles offshore of Kailua-Kona.
Though the storm is expected to pass south and southwest of the islands, forecasters cautioned Monday that Hurricane Lane will bring the potential for heavy rains and flash flooding this week.
“Latest forecast models indicate that, regardless of the eventual track and intensity of Lane, an extremely moist and unstable air mass will move over the islands beginning late Wednesday, and will remain in place through the end of the week. This is expected to result in very heavy rainfall, potentially leading to flash flooding,” forecasters said.
Meanwhile, a high surf advisory is in effect for east-facing shores the Big Island’s southern, eastern and northern coasts through 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Long-period swells from Hurricane Lane are expected to begin arriving along east-facing shores of the island, as well as Maui, Monday night. Increasing surf and seas from the storm will likely continue to build, and may impact other shores as the week progresses.
Wave heights of 6 feet to 12 feet are forecast, with the largest waves expected along the southeast coast of Hawaii Island.
Also in effect for waters around Hawaii Island on Monday was a tropical storm watch because of strong winds associated with Lane. Those winds are expected to impact waters south of the island as early as Wednesday morning with rough seas and swells expected to increase Tuesday night. Such watches are issued 48 hours in advance of anticipated tropical storm- or hurricane-force winds in an area.