Winds sapped Hurricane Lane’s strength

Mark Thiessen
Associated Press

Hurricane Lane secured its place in the history books before it quickly dissipated into a tropical storm and moved off from Hawaii. The storm caused damage, mostly on the Big Island, where rivers raged near Hilo and nearly 40 people had to be rescued from homes.

There were no deaths from the storm, which had the potential to cause much more destruction.

The storm named Lane was barreling toward the Hawaiian Islands as a powerful Category 5 hurricane in the middle of the week. But then it slowed down, moving as slow as 2 mph at times.

As it lingered, the storm’s outer bands were already over the Big Island, allowing Lane to drop 51.53 inches of rain as of early Sunday morning, according to preliminary figures from the National Weather Service.

That puts it in third place for the most rain from a storm in the United States since 1950.

Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over Houston last year, dropped the most rain in that span with 60.58 inches Bingaman said. Hurricane Hiki dropped 52 inches in Hawaii in 1950, and Amelia produced a 48-inch rainfall in 1978.

Rain was still falling on the Big Island, and the total could still increase.

Residents and businesses across the islands prepared for the worst, boarding up windows and stocking up on supplies.

Tourists in hotels along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu didn’t heed warnings to get out of the water. But many visitors stocked up on snack food and beer at convenience stores just in case.

While the Big Island took the brunt of the storm, the worst of fears never materialized as Lane quickly fell apart.

Winds ultimately caused the demise of Lane, National Weather Service meteorologist Vanessa Almanza said.

The storm moved in the central Pacific along a high-pressure ridge last week, when there wasn’t much wind shear to affect the hurricane.

But then the storm began moving north toward Hawaii around the high-pressure ridge, and that’s when its winds died down and it lost speed.

The jet stream “just kind of pushed the top off of the hurricane and what happens is it loses exhaust so it just starts collapsing,” Almanza said.

It was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday, and all warnings for Hawaii were canceled Saturday morning after the storm turned west and moved away from the state.