On Tuesday night, the National Weather Service announced that Hurricane Lane had become a Category 5 hurricane, which means that it is likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds 157 miles per hour (253 kph) or above.
But Hurricane Lane looks poised to affect the Aloha State, and was about 480 miles southeast of Honolulu early Wednesday with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, just above the Category 5 threshold.
The National Weather Service says the hurricane warning in effect for Hawaii's Big Island has been extended to the island of Maui. Roofs and walls will collapse.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, according to the National Weather Service's (NWS) Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu.
"Tropical-storm-force winds with gusts to hurricane force from Lane could start to impact the Big Island by Thursday local time".
Tropical storm conditions will be possible on the Big island later Wednesday, with hurricane conditions possible on Thursday. Hawaii County remains under a hurricane warning, and Oahu under a hurricane watch.
But the agency cautioned, "Lane is forecast to remain a unsafe hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands".
A swell generated by Lane could bring very large and rough surf and unsafe rip currents for south- and southeast-facing shores, the weather service said.
The gas lines were long at Costco in Kahului on Tuesday as Hurricane Lane approached the Hawaiian Islands. "As Lane is expected to be slow-moving as it nears the islands, it will produce large and damaging surf, mainly along exposed south and west facing shores", it added. In addition, all library programs statewide scheduled from today to Sunday were canceled. It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands are directly impacted.
Officials were urging residents across the islands to prepare.
"Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane", he said during a press conference.
"If you're in the path of #HurricaneLane, get ready now and make sure your family and neighbors do as well", the Federal Emergency Management Agency tweeted Wednesday. "We have the two weeks supply of everything on hand - food, water, medication, clinical labs for blood needs, and we can take care of any of the emergencies that would arise".
Public schools on the Big Island and in Maui County are closed Wednesday until further notice.
Hawaii is bracing for a rare event this week, as major Hurricane Lane tracks toward the state - the first hurricane to make such a close approach to the chain since 2014. "Once the storm has passed and it is safe for our crews to begin restoration, we will work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power".