Lane's maximum sustained winds were about 155 mph, the National Weather Service said, which will slowly weaken over the next 48 hours.
"It is much too early to confidently determine which, if any, of the main Hawaiian islands will be directly impacted by Lane", the weather service said.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige is allowing non-essential state employees on the Big Island and Maui to go on administrative leave from Wednesday to Friday as Hurricane Lane approaches.
The 4 PM Advisory had Lane as a Major Category 4 storm with sustained wind speeds of 140 miles per hour and a minimum pressure of 940 millibars.
At about 5 p.m. Sunday, the center of the storm was about 735 miles east-southeast of Hilo and moving to the west at about 14 mph. The next closest storm of such strength to approach the islands was John in 1994.
Additional Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watches and Warnings will likely be issued for other Hawaiian Islands.
Birchard says Hawaii residents could be slammed with heavy rain, flash flooding and high surf even if the center doesn't reach the islands.
"The center of Lane will track dangerously close to the Hawaiian Islands from Thursday through Saturday", the weather service said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration has been sending multiple aircraft into and around the storm in order to help observe the hurricane and improve the forecast, providing a better idea of the threat Lane presents to Hawaii.
Flash flooding and landslides are expected, with total rain accumulations of 10 to 15 inches forecast; certain areas in Hawaii may be deluged with more than 20 inches of rain.
Hurricane Lane, earliest reasonable arrival times of tropical storm force winds.
Tropical storm conditions are possible on Maui on Wednesday and on Oahu on Thursday; and hurricane conditions are possible late Thursday into Friday.
Longtime Hawaii residents recalled a devastating 1992 hurricane as they prepared for Hurricane Lane. Mount Kilauea began producing lava flows in early May and portions of the southeastern coastline of the Big Island have been transformed by the lava flows which covered over 13 square miles (35 square kilometers).
By Thursday morning as the storm tracks northwestward, forecasters expect the storm to be about 118 miles south-southwest of South Point and 224 miles south-southwest of Kailua-Kona.