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HONOLULU — National Weather Service says Hurricane Lane has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm. Meantime, some airlines are canceling flights as the hurricane approaches the islands.

Hurricane Lane already lashed the Big Island with nearly 20 inches of rain in nearly 24 hours and was moving closer to Hawaii, a shift that will put the Big Island and Maui “in the thick” of the storm, National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye said. The agency says the storm has weakened to a Category 3 but can still cause major damage.

The hurricane with winds from 111 to 129 mph was expected to move close to or over portions of the main islands later Thursday or Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20 feet (6 meters) and a storm surge of up to 4 feet (1 meter), forecasters said.

Lane was not projected to make a direct hit on the islands, but officials warned that even a lesser blow could do significant harm. Some areas could see up to 30 inches (about 80 centimeters) of rain.

Due to these concerns, multiple airlines have cancelled Hawaiian flights.

United Airlines is calling off its flights to and from Maui on Friday. The airline added two additional flights from Honolulu to San Francisco on Thursday to help transport people off the islands.

Hawaiian Airlines is canceling all Friday flights by its commuter carrier, Ohana by Hawaiian, on Friday. It canceled Ohana flights to Kapalua and Lanai airports Thursday.

United is also taking steps to secure its hangar at Daniel K. Inouye Airport in Honolulu.

Continuing coverage here.