Hurricane sends people in Hawaii hurrying to buy supplies

A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours.

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year.

Images captured by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the Category 4 storm swirling towards Hawaii with sustained winds around 155 miles per hour that could cause catastrophic damage.

Lane has maximum winds of 150 mph (240 km/h) and is about 450 miles (725 km) southeast of Hawaii's big island. While the European (ECMWF) model shows a large area of drier air moving in with the easterly trade wind flow. There's uncertainty to Lane's path - whether it moves north or south, meteorologist Gavin Shigesato said.

Very heavy rainfall is expected over parts of the island chain from Wednesday into the weekend, with widespread accumulations in excess of 200 mm expected - and some locally higher amounts. The next closest storm of such strength to approach the islands was John in 1994. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Oahu, Kauai County, including the islands of Kauai and Niihau.

"Slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Lane is forecast to remain a risky hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands", the CPHC said.

UPDATE: Category 4 Hurricane Lane now has winds of 150 mph, west motion at 12 mph and is less than 500 miles away from Hawaii.

The state closed all government offices on Maui and the Big Island starting Wednesday.

Kauai bore the brunt of Iniki in 1992, and that storm is top of mind for residents preparing to weather Lane in the coming days.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Hawaiʻi and Maui Counties as Hurricane Lane continues to move towards the state as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Based on the scientific information and expertise available, Hawaii is in danger of being significantly impacted by Hurricane Lane, whether or not the hurricane directly hits the state, according to a state press release. Storm surge is also likely to be an issue, but which locations see surge, and how high it is, will depend on the exact track of the storm. Isolated areas of the islands could see more than 20 inches. A hurricane watch is still in effect for Honolulu and Kauaʻi counties. It is the costliest hurricane in Hawaii history.

"We just want to encourage all of the people of Hawaii to take this storm seriously, it is very different", he said.

"But I remember the wind being the strongest force of nature I've ever witnessed and probably the scariest sounds I've ever heard in my life".