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Hawaii dodges a bullet as Hurricane Lane weakens to tropical storm

Just a couple of days ago, Lane barreled toward Hawaii as Category Five storm.

Surfers ride swells generated by Tropical Storm Lane on Waikiki beach, Hawaii on August 24, 2018.. Lane, which had reached Category Five strength as a hurricane, has weakened to a tropical storm. CREDIT: RONEN ZILBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images.
Surfers ride swells generated by Tropical Storm Lane on Waikiki beach, Hawaii on August 24, 2018.. Lane, which had reached Category Five strength as a hurricane, has weakened to a tropical storm. CREDIT: RONEN ZILBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images.

It could have been far, far worse: Just a couple of days ago, Hawaii was battening down as Hurricane Lane barreled toward the archipelago as only the second Category Five storm to ever approach its shores.

But by late Friday, the once fearsome hurricane had quieted dramatically, weakening to a still dangerous, but much less potent tropical storm. The storm was strong enough to whip up surf along Hawaii’s beaches and mild enough to entice some surfers to grab their surfboards and ride the ocean swells.

Early Saturday, Lane was about 200 miles southwest of Honolulu with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour — a far cry from the wind speeds of 155 miles per hour and higher clocked by a Category Five hurricane.

Governor David Ige early Saturday tweeted out the good news that a rare hurricane watch for Hawaii had been canceled, although the entire archipelago remained under a tropical storm warning.

In an advisory issued Saturday morning the Central Pacific Hurricane Center warned that tropical storm conditions are expected in and near Oahu, Maui County and the Big Island on Saturday, and could be felt later in the day on Kauai. Some flash flooding was possible and landslides are likely in some areas.

But that is nothing compared to the devastation that had been feared had Lane made landfall at hurricane strength.

“The good news is Lane got weak and fell apart. We dodged a bullet,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at a press conference late Friday.

One reason that Lane was expected to be so dangerous is that inhabitants of Hawaii have very little experience preparing for hurricanes.

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As ThinkProgress reported earlier this week, over the past 60 years, only four named storms have made landfall in Hawaii, and only two of those have been hurricanes.

While Hawaiians are feeling somewhat relieved, forecasters said they are not entirely out of the woods.

Lane has deluged the island with 40 inches of rain so far, hitting parts of the Big Island, according to the CPHC, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Forecasters said more rain is on the way there on Saturday, along with strong winds and dangerous ocean crests.