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AKIPRESS.COM - Hawaii has been put on alert amid fears a massive hurricane could be about to batter the island, with potential winds of up to 157mph forecast, Sky News reports.
The National Weather Service announced that Hurricane Lane had become a Category 5 hurricane, which means it could cause catastrophic damage.
The hurricane is about 500 miles (804km) south east of Honolulu, the capital.
Forecasters have issued a hurricane warning for Hawaii island (also known as Big Island) and a hurricane watch for Oahu, Maui and other smaller islands that make up the archipelago.
Tropical storm-force winds and torrential rain could start arriving on Wednesday.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center warned that Hurricane Lane "is forecast to move dangerously close to the main Hawaiian islands as a hurricane later this week, potentially bringing damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding from heavy rainfall".
The storm had been moving west, but it is expected to turn northwest towards the state on Wednesday.
It is not certain what Hurricane Lane's path will be - whether it moves north or south.
Meteorologist Gavin Shigesato said: "It is much too early to confidently determine which, if any, of the main Hawaiian islands will be directly impacted by Lane."
But the hurricane centre said the storm will move very close to or over the islands between Thursday and Saturday.
Schools on the Big Island and in Maui County have already been closed until further notice.
Hawaii Governor David Ige is allowing non-essential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave from Wednesday to Friday as the hurricane approaches.
Residents are stocking up on essentials and have been remembering how Hawaii was hit by a devastating hurricane in 1992.
Kauai resident Mike Miranda was 12 when Hurricane Iniki devastated the island 26 years ago.
He said: "A lot of people are comparing the similarities between Iniki and Lane.