Hurricane Lane throws damper on Hawaiian wedding plans
If all goes as planned, Calgarian Noel Black and fiancée Sonia will get married Sunday by the waterfront on the west coast Hawaiian district of Kona.
Whether that happens is up to Mother Nature.
“I don’t know what the worstcase scenario is if it is a really bad storm,” Black said Thursday afternoon as Hurricane Lane inched closer to the tropical island.
“We’re thinking positively so we’re not really going down that road. We’ll just see what happens and play it by ear. It’s just stressful because we have more friends still to fly. That’s a bit of a worry.”
The now-Category 3 hurricane soaked Hawaii’s Big Island on Thursday, dumping 30 centimetres of rain in 12 hours as residents stocked up on supplies and tried to protect their homes ahead of the state’s first hurricane since 1992.
The U.S. National Weather Service warned some areas could see as much as 76 centimetres before the system passes. Tropical storm conditions, with winds of 118 km/ h, were expected to reach the Big Island, Hawaii’s easternmost major island, with hurricane conditions possible later in the day.
As of midday, the hurricane was about 520 kilometres south of Honolulu and moving northwest. The storm was expected to turn to the north later Thursday and into Friday, when the centre could move closer to portions of the main islands.
“You’re kind of just waiting to see what happens. I think everyone’s just waiting for it to pass,” said Black, who now lives in Australia. “Last night we thought it was going to hit so we had all the windows closed and brought in all the furniture. We were filling up everything with water.”
Christopher Brown, a guest at Black’s wedding, said everyone’s preparing as best they can.
“The other side of the island, like the Hilo side, is getting quite a bit more rain. Highways are shut down due to small mudslides and everything,” said Brown, a firefighter from Okotoks. “There is kind of a sense that things could get bad quite quick. It’s a little bit cliché, but it’s very much the calm before what will likely be a big storm.”
With conditions expected to worsen, WestJet cancelled its scheduled flights in and out of Hawaii for Thursday and Friday, affecting routes to and from Vancouver. The airline said it would have two non-scheduled recovery flights out of Hawaii Thursday, allowing those supposed to fly out of Honolulu and Maui later in the day to escape before the worst of the storm blows in.
WestJet said it was contacting passengers on Friday’s cancelled flights to inform them of plans and to rebook them this weekend.
“We urge our guests to follow all emergency response instructions provided by local authorities,” WestJet stated. “The situation is extremely fluid and we continue to monitor Hurricane Lane’s path closely.”
Air Canada said it moved up its one scheduled Hawaii flight on Thursday from Vancouver to beat the hurricane.
“We’re continuing to monitor it very closely, and we’re currently evaluating the timing of our one Friday flight to Hawaii, from Vancouver-Honolulu return,” said an Air Canada spokesperson, adding it does not have any scheduled flights to Hawaii from Alberta.
A travel advisory remains in place, warning Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to the area.
“There’s no flights out of here. Going home isn’t an option,” Brown said. “Being a tourist in a situation like that is kind of a unique feeling. Some people were talking about going to the other side of the island, but they’re currently in worse shape than we are. You’re quite literally stuck on an island, waiting for this to play out.”
Robert Morin and his wife, who are vacationing in Maui, say they hope they’ll be able to get home to Calgary on Sunday, which is when they ’re supposed to fly via WestJet.
“I think we’re well prepared but the downside is the airport is on the other side of the island,” Morin said. “You’ve got to cross the island to get there. If they do get those big rains that they’re talking about in the mountains and what not, you could have washouts of the roads.”
Morin said they were prepared for the worst.
“We went out early and got extra water, dry goods, food. All of our stuff is packed ... rather than hanging in the closets,” he said. “We’ve got our passports and money and car keys and everything sitting right by the bed in case you’ve got to get up and leave quick. We could be out of the room in less than five minutes.”
Still, Black said he and his wifeto-be are staying calm.
“It’s sort of the normal wedding stuff that we’re trying to do and then we also have the hurricane thing going on,” he said. “We weren’t expecting that, but we don’t really have a choice. It’ll definitely be a story to tell one day.”
Noel Black and Sonia Tousis are supposed to get married Sunday in the Kona district of Hawaii — hurricane permitting.