Torrential downpours from Hurricane Lane are soaking Hawaii’s Big Island as the storm approaches the island.
National Weather Service meteorologist Gavin Shigesato says rain gauges near Hilo had recorded 12 inches of rain in 12 hours as of 4 a.m. Thursday.
Parts of Maui County are also seeing wet weather as bands of rain extended 350 miles from the hurricane’s center.
Hurricane Lane continues to move northwest and tropical storm conditions were expected to reach the Big Island later Thursday morning with hurricane conditions by nightfall.
Shigesato says the hurricane’s speed on Wednesday slowed from 9 mph to 7mph.
He says the more stationary hurricane increases the threat of flash floods and landslides because of prolonged, increased rainfall.
President Donald J. Trump has issued a disaster declaration for Hawaii as residents prepare to deal with Hurricane Lane.
The president issued the declaration on Wednesday. It authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate disaster relief efforts with the state.
Hurricane Lane is forecast to be the most powerful storm to hit Hawaii since Hurricane Iniki in 1992.
Officials opened shelters on the Big Island and the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai on Wednesday. They urged those needing to use the Molokai shelter to get there soon because of concerns the main highway could become impassable.
As those shelters opened, rain began to pour and cellphone alerts went out, the approaching hurricane started to feel real for Hawaii residents.
Those who lived in Hawaii when Iniki hit said they remember the "pandemonium" and were boarding up their houses and stockpiling water.
At a news conference Wednesday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell urged residents to take the storm seriously.
"We do not want to see what happened in Puerto Rico," Caldwell said. "And we do that by making sure we’re prepared."
Honolulu police officers, state officials and outreach workers canvassed various communities to warn Oahu’s homeless population about Hurricane Lane and urge them to seek shelter.
"We’re going into a lot of areas that might not be accessible to a standard patrol officer. We go down to the rivers and the stream beds. We’re going to the parks and try to hit every part of the homeless community," said Sgt. Joseph O’Neal, Honolulu Police Department Community Outreach Division.
At last count there were more than 2,000 unsheltered homeless people on Oahu.