The Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator wants Hawaii residents to realize that though Lane has been downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm, it is still dangerous.
FEMA head Brock Long said in a media briefing, “Hawaii is not in the clear from Tropical Storm Lane at this point,” according to AP.
The island will still be inundated by hard rain and lashed by strong winds for the next 48 hours, whatever official description the storm bears.
“The rainfall event is not over,” Long said. “Torrential rains will be the largest threat that we see for the next 48 hours.”
He said the biggest effects so far have been on transportation, due to mudslides and other damage to the transportation infrastructure, mostly in Hawaii County on the Big Island.
While Hurricane Lane has weakened to a Category 1, it still poses a serious heavy rainfall threat this weekend. Additional major flash flooding &
landslides are possible across the islands. Follow @NWSHonolulu for the latest! For more on flood safety: https://t.co/wggawuitoN pic.twitter.com/Q0cDk53iTp
— NWS (@NWS) August 25, 2018
Downgraded but Dangerous
Before reaching Hawaii, Lane had been listed as a Category 5 Hurricane, the highest designation that exists for hurricanes.
A Category 5 storm will have sustained wind speeds above 157 mph. A Tropical Storm’s maximum sustained wind speed is less than half that at only 73 mph.
The storm broke up from its own forces, and was downgraded to “Tropical Storm” by the National Weather Service (NWS) on Friday night, Aug. 24.
An NWS tweet noted that as far as tropical storms go, Lane was the second-wettest so far, and still going strong.
Per @NWSHonolulu, heavy rain continues to fall in Hawai'i from Lane, mainly on the islands of Hawai'i and Maui. We're within 10" of Lane having the highest tropical cyclone-related total on record for Hawai'i — it's #2 at this point. pic.twitter.com/E9PAmDeLaw
— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) August 25, 2018
The storm had already dumped as much as 42 inches of rain on some parts of the islands and was within ten inches of setting a new record.
While the high winds won’t be as high as the worst anticipated and the high surf might not reach the greatest height, Lane is already exceeding the rain warnings listed by NWS when it was still a hurricane.
— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) August 24, 2018
Lane rained hardest on the Big Island on Aug. 24. The city of Hilo was flooded with waist-high water and landslides shut down most of the roads.
Waikiki was expecting significant damage as the rain hit as hard as predicted.
Ray Alexander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned that the Ala Wai Canal was likely to flood if the rain was as strong as predicted.
“The canal has flooded in the past, and I believe it’s safe to say based on the forecast of rainfall it’s likely to flood again—the impacts of which we aren’t prepared to say at this time,” Alexander told AP.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been warning for years that in the worst possible scenario, the canal could flood and destroy some 3,000 buildings, causing up to a billion dollars in damage, the Honolulu-Star-Advertiser reported.