An estimated 270,000 visitors are hunkered down in Hawaii at week’s end, experiencing or awaiting the onslaught of tempestuous seas, torrential rain and 110-mile-an-hour winds from Hurricane Lane. The rare tropical hurricane to brush this close to the Aloha State had weakened to a Category 2 storm Friday, but its slow progress—roughly 5 miles an hour—is expected to prolong the suffering. Flooding, in particular, is a major concern.
The American Red Cross said 1,500 people spent Thursday night in shelters, reported The New York Times. More than 30 inches of rain were recorded on the windward side of Hawaii Island, which, along with Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Lanai, began experiencing tropical storm conditions by Friday morning; Maui and Oahu were expected to experience hurricane conditions later in the day.
The island of Kauai was under a hurricane watch.
Nature has severely challenged Hawaii this year. In April, nearly 50 inches of rain fell on Kauai in a day, a new national record. In May, the increased eruption of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii Island began.
“It’s been a very active year,” George Szigeti, president and CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority, told the Times, “but I would tell you, Hawaii is a very resilient destination.”
Tourists eager to leave have been blocked by cancellations of flights in and out of Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, airports by multiple airlines.
Nonetheless, not all news from these island paradises is gloomy. “People are out in the pool right now, playing, even though it’s a bit rainy,” said Tammie Carpenter, public relations manager for Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay on Hawaii Island. The resort is in Kailua-Kona, on the drier, leeward side of the island.
“Yesterday was beautiful. Today, our guests are enjoying rainy-day activities,” she said. “We’re really counting our blessings.”