Hurricane Lane, a risky Category 4 storm, headed toward Hawaii

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As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Lane was a Category 5 hurricane circulating 160 mph winds some 360 miles south-southeast of Kailua-Kona and 300 miles south-southeast of South Point, according to Honolulu-based Central Pacific Hurricane Center forecasters.

CBS News weather producer David Parkinson said Lane is already much closer than Hurricane Hector, which reached Category 4 as it brushed south of Hawaii earlier this month. Roofs and walls will collapse.

Moderate size ESE swell from powerful Cat 4 Hurricane Lane continues to impact the eastern end of the Hawaiian Islands this afternoon, showing largest for the Hilo side of the Big Island and parts of the windward side of Maui.

Damaging tropical storm force winds could begin as early as Wednesday night in Maui County, with unsafe hurricane force winds possible starting Thursday, the weather service said. "A Hurricane Watch remains in effect for Maui County, and is now posted for Oʻahu, with tropical-storm force winds possibly beginning Thursday or Thursday night". Hurricane watches were in effect for other islands as of press time.

Slight weakening is expected during the next couple of days, but Lane is forecast to remain a unsafe hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands.

The U.S. Coast Guard is reminding the public to stay off the water when hurricane or tropical storm force winds are present, and to stay clear of beaches.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration has been sending multiple aircraft into and around the storm in order to help observe the hurricane and improve the forecast, providing a better idea of the threat Lane presents to Hawaii.

The latest forecast model indicates Lane will remain a very strong, and unsafe storm and will maintain on its current track through tonight, turning further northwest Wednesday. There's uncertainty to Lane's path - whether it moves north or south, meteorologist Gavin Shigesato said.

There are now Hurricane Warnings, Hurricane Watches and Tropical Storm Warnings posted for much of Hawaii. Even if the center of Lane doesn't make landfall, the islands could be walloped with rain and wind. All after-school activities statewide are canceled for the rest of the week. It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands will be directly impacted.

Residents can find information about how to prepare here.

"The seriousness of the worst-case possibilities with Lane, and the rarity of the situation, call for an especially high level of preparation and vigilance among all Hawaiians", Weather Underground said, adding that the storm was heading towards "a potentially devastating encounter" with the state. "Remember, if the power goes out, ATMs aren't going to be working".

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