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The centre of the storm is expected to track "dangerously" close to or over the islands between Thursday and Saturday, the NHC said.
This satellite image provided by NOAA on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, shows Hurricane Lane south of Hawaii.
Schools on the Big Island and in Maui County have already been closed until further notice. But they do forecast the storm to run parallel to the entire island chain, potentially sideswiping it with a formidable blow from both water and wind.
The hurricane was about 465 miles (804 kilometers) southeast of Honolulu before dawn Wednesday and The National Weather Service extended a hurricane warning for Hawaii's Big Island to include the island of Maui. Honolulu, the state's largest city and capital, is on the island of O'ahu.
Rainfall of 20 inches (51cm) in some areas could lead to major flash flooding, landslides and mudslides, the NWS said. Forecasters say hurricane-force winds will extend 40 miles from the center, while tropical-storm force winds can be felt 140 miles from the eye.
The National Weather Service announced that Hurricane Lane had become a Category 5 hurricane, which means it could cause catastrophic damage.
Hawaii residents already reeling from months of explosive eruptions from Kilauea volcano braced on Wednesday for Hurricane Lane, which was bearing down on the USA island chain with high winds and lashing rains and the potential to trigger flooding and landslides.
State and County Emergency Management Agency officials are urging residents to stay up-to-date and prepare for Hurricane Lane.
The state proclamation declares all counties in the state disaster areas and authorizes the expenditure of state monies for the "speedy and efficient relief of damages, losses and suffering resulting from Hurricane Lane". It declares counties of "Hawai'i, Maui, Kalawao, Kaua'i and the City and County of Honolulu disaster areas for the objective of implementing emergency management functions", his office said.
In fact, Hawaii has weathered landfalls from only two tropical storms and two hurricanes since 1959, CNN reported. The last hurricane to make landfall in the island state was Iniki, a Category 4 that barreled into the island of Kauai on September 11, 1992, and resulted in more than $3 billion in damage.
Meteorologists have estimated that some regions of Hawaii could see up to two feet of rain - while warning residents to take the potential threat seriously. As Lane will be slow-moving as it nears the islands, prolonged heavy rainfall and life-threatening flash flooding will be possible.
There is still a high degree of uncertainty on the forecast track and intensity of Lane. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Hawaii County, while hurricane watches are in effect for Maui County and Oahu.
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