August 20, 2018

Hurricane Lane May Pose a Threat to the Hawaiian Islands Later This Week


Hurricane Lane is a powerful category four storm this afternoon as it slowly makes its way in the direction of Hawaii. The storm is forecast to take a path that brings it uncomfortably close to the Hawaiian Islands later this week, though exactly how close—and its impacts—are still to be determined given the complicated setup driving the hurricane's future path.
Source: NOAA/NASA
Several aircraft investigated Hurricane Lane this afternoon and found that the storm had maximum sustained winds of 130 MPH and a minimum central pressure of 964 mb. This makes Lane a category four hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, the second such storm in this part of the world in the past week. Hurricane Hector passed through the same area last week as a stronger storm. 

The latest forecast from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center—the NHC's sister agency in Honolulu—shows Lane turning toward the northwest around the middle of the week. While the storm will start to lose strength as it encounters wind shear closer to the islands, it will still be a strong storm as it comes dangerously close to the 50th state.

All seven populated islands are within the cone of uncertainty, which is the historical margin of error in previous hurricane track forecasts. The cone of uncertainty only applies to the eye of the storm, however, and Hurricane Lane's effects will extend hundreds of miles from the center of the storm. Even if the storm's eye misses Hawaii to the south, significant impacts can't be ruled out, especially on the Big Island, Maui, Lanai, and Molokai.

On the storm's current path and timing, watches and warnings will likely be required for the Big Island within the next day. The latest CPHC forecast says that Wednesday morning is the earliest reasonable arrival time for tropical storm force winds if they affect the Big Island, with the successive islands feeling the first effects over the following day.

Lane is in an environment that makes it hard for forecasters and weather models to agree on what will happen. The storm's future path will be determined by the strength of two ridges of high pressure—one to the southeast of the hurricane and one to the east. The interplay between the two ridges will dictate how soon and how sharply Lane curves north/northwest as it approaches the islands.

Just like their counterparts at the National Hurricane center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu will issue updates on Hurricane Lane every six hours—at 11 and 5 AM/PM—with intermediate updates every three hours in between once watches and warnings are in effect. Hawaii is six hours behind Eastern Daylight Time.



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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I ran Gawker's The Vane for two years and I've contributed to Mental Floss, Forbes, Popular Science, and the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. I also teamed up with Outdoor Life to write a book called The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which came out in October 2015.

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