Hurricane Lane nears Hawaii as state braces for heavy rain, powerful winds

Hawaii residents are gearing up for a rare hurricane that’s expected to hit close to the islands or directly over them, as the National Weather Service has issued a hurricane watch around the region.

Hurricane Lane "is forecast to move dangerously close to the main Hawaiian islands as a hurricane later this week, potentially bringing damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding from heavy rainfall," the weather service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Tuesday.

As of 2 p.m. local time, Lane was roughly 400 miles south-southeast of Kailau-Kona and 550 miles south-southwest of Honolulu, moving with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.

This NASA satellite imagery shows Hurricane Lane in the Central Pacific Ocean southeast of the Hawaiian Islands Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii is outlined at top left. Hawaii residents rushed to grocery stores Tuesday to stock up on bottled water, ramen and toilet paper as they faced the threat of heavy rain, flash flooding and high surf from the powerful and erratic hurricane expected to churn close to the islands or directly over them. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch for Hawaii, Maui and other smaller islands, meaning tropical storm-force winds, excessive rain and large swells could arrive starting Wednesday. (NASA via AP)

The National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch for Hawaii, Maui and other smaller islands, meaning tropical storm-force winds, excessive rain and large swells could arrive starting Wednesday.  (NASA)

The storm is expected to move closer to the state on Wednesday, but the complete path of the hurricane — whether it moves north or south — remains uncertain.

"It is much too early to confidently determine which, if any, of the main Hawaiian islands will be directly impacted by Lane," meteorologist Gavin Shigesato, of the NWS, said.

The hurricane will move close to or over the Hawaii coast from Thursday through Saturday. And, even if the storm doesn’t actually make landfall, the islands could still see torrential rain and winds.

HURRICANE LANE MAY THREATEN HAWAII, AS TRACK SHIFTS CLOSER TO ISLANDS

Lane will not be as strong as it is right now when it makes its closest approach to Hawaii by the end of the week, but could still pose a "significant threat" as a hurricane or strong tropical storm.

"Hurricanes are rare for this region," Fox News’ senior meteorologist Janice Dean said Tuesday. "There have been only three that have struck the western island of Kauai: Iniki in 1992, Iwa in 1982 and Dot in 1959."

Residents and tourists on the islands can expect dangerous surf conditions and rip currents, in addition to heavy rain and flooding. Possible tropical storm force winds could arrive as early as Wednesday for the eastern islands of the state.

Bryce and Dom Boeder of Waimea, Kauai, load their truck with storm supplies in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Lihue, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Hurricane Lane "is forecast to move dangerously close to the main Hawaiian islands as a hurricane later this week, potentially bringing damaging winds and life-threatening flash flooding from heavy rainfall," the weather service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center warned as it got closer to the state. (Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island via AP)

Bryce and Dom Boeder of Waimea, Kauai, load their truck with storm supplies in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Lihue, on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018.  (Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island via AP)

Hawaii Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation Tuesday night ahead of the storm, which "will provide relief for disaster damages, losses and suffering caused by Hurricane Lane."

Maui, Kalawao, Kauai, Hawaii and Honolulu counties, as well as the city of Honolulu, have been declared disaster areas.

Officials continue to urge residents to prepare ahead of Hurricane Lane.

Maui County spokesperson Rod Antone said that people should have emergency kits ready to go, and should withdraw cash from the bank in case power outages occur.

The mayor of Maui echoed warnings to residents to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

"Anyone who is waiting until the storm hits to prepare will find themselves running around at the last minute and standing in line at the gas stations and grocery stores," Mayor Alan Arakawa said in a statement. "So prepare now and avoid being on the road when you should be safe at home."

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and Lee Ross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.