Hawaiians have been urged to buckle down with supplies as the island prepares to be hit by Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 cyclone. When it reaches those islands, projected to be Friday afternoon, the hurricane is expected to have weakened to Category 1 or 2, with sustained winds of 74 to 110 miles per hour.
As of 5 p.m. (0300 GMT), the storm was centred 260 miles (415 km) south of Kailua-Kona as it moved northwest at about 8 miles per hour, the weather service said.
Landslides are a concern, with 10-30 inches of rain forecast through the weekend - and slides already were happening on the Big Island as the storm's outer bands hit Thursday morning.
Public schools were closed for the rest of the week, and local government workers were told to stay home unless they are essential employees. Ige also warned Hawaii residents, who haven't experienced a major hurricane since Hurricane Iniki killed six people and caused $1.8 billion in damage back in 1992, that the storm's heavy rainfall would cause risky floods and landslides, and urged people not to attempt to cross moving water.
All of the islands are under weather alerts.
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After soaking the Big Island its is expected to head towards Maui and Oahu.
Trump issued the declaration on Wednesday. The greatest fear is, as he says, "We do not want to see what happened in Puerto Rico, and we do that by making sure we're prepared".
Penny said the volunteers will be there to provide residents with shelter, food, emergency supplies, health services, "all these things that people need after experiencing something like a hurricane".
Federal officials have been working with Hawaiian utility managers to keep a close eye on the power grid, a major vulnerability in Puerto Rico past year when it was hit by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm. This sideswipe, however, from the hurricane is expected to bring about 15-20 inches of rain, which could contribute to catastrophic flooding and mudslides.
The downpours could lead to landslides and flooding.
Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier said Lane may weaken to a Category 3 by Thursday afternoon but that would still be a major hurricane.
Another important threat is storm surge.