Hawaii tells 270,000 visitors in destination to “be prepared” as Hurricane Lane takes aim

Hawaii tells 270,000 visitors in destination to “be prepared” as Hurricane Lane takes aim

TORONTO — Visitors to Hawaii are being told to be prepared and stay safe and Air Canada and WestJet have issued rebooking advisories for Hawaii destinations as the biggest storm in more than 25 years bears down on the islands.

At a press conference today Hawaii Governor Governor David Ige said everyone in Hawaii should plan for the onset of very strong winds, hazardous surf conditions, torrential rainfall and heavy flooding until Hurricane Lane completes its pass of the Hawaiian Islands this weekend.

Ige said Hawaii has about 270,000 travellers currently visiting the islands. Ige said visitors should listen to the safety information and updates provided by airlines, hotels and media, “and heed their advice”.

Emergency shelters have opened as the rain began to pour and cellphone alerts went out, even as the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 4, with winds from 209 to 251 kph.

Hurricane Lane is projected to pass south of the island of Hawaii and then pass south of, but close to, Maui, Lanai and Molokai starting Thursday afternoon, and Oahu and Kauai sometime Friday lasting through Saturday. It’s on track to be the most powerful storm to hit Hawaii since Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

Officials have opened shelters on the Big Island and Oahu as well as Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Tom Travis said there’s not enough shelter space statewide and advised those who not in flood zones to stay home.

Meteorologists say Lane may weaken to a Category 3 by this afternoon but that would still be a major hurricane.

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992. Others have come close in recent years.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has created a special Hurricane Lane alert page, now posted on its website, to provide industry partners, residents and visitors with information, updates and online resources about Hurricane Lane and its effects on the Hawaiian Islands.

The alert page is at hawaiitourismauthority.org/news/alerts/hurricane-lane-update/. The HTA also recommends the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) website at: weather.gov/cphc.

The HTA says it is closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Lane and will continue to provide updates on the websites as new information becomes available.

Meanwhile WestJet has issued a travel advisory for Hawaii, offering rebooking options for travellers heading to Honolulu (Oahu), Kona (Big Island), Lihue (Kauai) and Kahului (Maui).

“Guests who have made their booking through a travel agency should contact their travel agent directly,” WestJet tells travellers. Passengers can also call 1-888-937-8538 (WestJet) or 1-877-737-7001 (WestJet Vacations). The advisory applies to flights scheduled for Aug. 23 – Aug. 25.

Air Canada has also posted information for Hawaii travellers. “As a result of Hurricane Lane approaching Hawaii, we understand that you may want to make alternate travel arrangements.”

Air Canada adds: “If you currently have a reservation, Air Canada has implemented a policy that makes it possible for you to make voluntary changes to your itinerary if you purchased an Air Canada ticket no later than Aug. 21st, 2018 for travel between now and August 26th, 2018 [and] your itinerary includes a flight to or from Hawaii.” Air Canada passengers can change their flight free of charge, to another date between now and Sept. 9 subject to availability in the cabin originally purchased. Otherwise, any fare difference will apply.

The HTA says visitors planning to travel to or who are already here in the Hawaiian Islands should contact their airlines, accommodations and activity providers for information on being prepared and make adjustments to travel plans as needed.

For all the people – locals and visitors – preparing to ride out the storm in destination, there were hundreds trying to fly out from the islands ahead of Hurricane Lane.

On Hawaiian Airlines’ website, an alert reads: “Our reservations department is currently experiencing extremely high call volumes … if your inquiry is not urgent or related to travel within the next 24 hours please consider calling back at a later time.”



With files from The Associated Press

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