Hurricane Lane
The illustration shows the possible track of Hurricane Lane as it approaches Hawaii. National Weather Service

Hurricane Lane, which is headed toward Hawaii, escalated to Category 5 with maximum sustained winds around 160 mph Tuesday.

A hurricane warning was issued Tuesday for Big Island, Hawaii and a hurricane watch was put in effect for Maui and Honolulu counties, including the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kahoolawe and the city of Honolulu.

“Data from the NOAA P-3 aircraft indicate that Lane has continued to intensify this afternoon. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 160 mph, making Lane an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane. A special advisory will be issued within the hour,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said, in its latest update.

"Due to a continued high degree of uncertainty on the forecast track and intensity of Lane, hurricane impacts could be felt across any of the Hawaiian Islands," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. "It is too early to predict which, if any, of the islands are directly impacted. Remember that life-threatening weather conditions can extend well away from the center of the hurricane."

The hurricane is currently located 375 miles south-southeast of Kailua-Kona or 535 miles southeast of Honolulu and it is headed toward west-northwest at about 9 mph speed, Hawaii News Now reported. The center of the storm is expected to move close or over parts of the state Thursday through Saturday.

Forecasters with the center have warned Hawaiian residents of severe impacts due to the hurricane, including, “ocean water surging and sweeping over beaches, coastal benches, lava flows, and roadways, creating the potential for significant damage to coastal properties and infrastructure, including roadways. Coastal evacuations and road closures are possible. Large breaking waves may affect harbor entrances and channels with significant damage possible to docks, piers, ramps, and boats.”

The south-facing shores of the Big Island have a high-surf warning in place, while a high surf advisory was issued for south-facing shores of all other islands.

The hurricane is expected to bring 10 to 15 inches, and up to 20 inches in some areas of the state and hence, a flash flood watch was issued by the National Weather Service in anticipation of heavy rainfall in 28 counties of Hawaii, which will go into effect from Wednesday morning through Friday afternoon.

Hurricane Lane
The illustration shows wind-speed probabilities for Hurricane Lane. National Weather Service

There also remains a possibility of considerable structural damage to homes and power lines in the areas where the hurricane passes over, NHS warned. Trees and power poles can be uprooted; the latter leading to power outages that may last for weeks to possibly months.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige declared that in the wake of fast-approaching Hurricane Lane, non-essential state employees on the Big Island and Maui were allowed to go on administrative leave from Wednesday to Friday. However, employees on Hawaii and Maui islands who worked in disaster management, as well as hospitals and prisons were required to come in for work, CBS affiliated WBTW reported.

The state Department of Education said all public schools in the Maui County and Big Island will be closed starting Wednesday.