WestJet cancels Hawaii flights due to Hurricane Lane

Mark Antolin and his son load sand to fill sand bags into his truck as Hurricane Lane approaches Honolulu Hawaii US Wednesday. Hugh Gentry Reuters

Fearful Hawaii residents stocked up on water and gasoline on Wednesday as Hurricane Lane bore down on the U.S. islands with high winds, lashing rains and the potential to trigger "life threatening" flooding and landslides.

The Category 4 storm continued on its sluggish trek toward the Aloha state Thursday with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.

Emergency hurricane shelters are being prepared on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Lanai and island officials said they would open more where needed.

As of 5 p.m. (0300 GMT), the storm was centred 260 miles (415 km) south of Kailua-Kona as it moved northwest at about 8 miles per hour, the weather service said.

At this time there are no changes to the cruise due to depart Honolulu the evening of August 25, a spokesperson for Norwegian said.

Living in an isolated island state also means the possibility that essential goods can't be shipped to Hawaii if the storm shuts down ports. Oahu and Kauai are under a hurricane watch, meaning hurricane conditions are possible and that winds of at least 39 miles per hour are anticipated in the comings days. All public schools canceled classes until further notice and many state employees have been asked to stay home.

The National Weather Service has warned of "life-threatening flash flooding and landslides", and that winds could reach up to 220 km/h in an official statement.

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The storm's unsafe center could make landfall as it moves past the islands from Thursday through Saturday.

It's no surprise the astronauts are keeping an especially close eye on the path of Hurricane Lane.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says the government had positioned generators and other aid in Hawaii well before the anticipated arrival of the hurricane.

Pi said Hurricane Lane is expected to drop 15 to 20 inches of rain on Maui and the west side of Hawaii, while Oahu is expected to get 10 to 15 inches rain.

However, the NWS has said that the storm, which is more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) wide, will cause significant unsafe weather in Hawaii even if it only skirts the state. "We have about nine cases of water because we're having family stay with us as well, so one case per person".

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. All vessels not now undergoing maintenance were being positioned to help respond after the storm, if needed.

She said the volunteers - who have "big hearts and just want to help people" - will provide physical as well as emotional support to survivors.

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