Oahu and Kauai County - including Kauai and Niihau islands - have a hurricane watch in place.
CALGARY-Hurricane Lane's path toward Hawaii has forced WestJet to cancel all inbound flights to the islands for the next two days.
"Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion", the centre said.
Hurricanes rarely make landfall in Hawaii and the last major storm to strike the state was almost three decades ago, when Hurricane Iniki barrelled into the island of Kauai, leaving six people dead and causing billions of dollars in damage.
A spokesman said: "Conditions will continue to deteriorate throughout the day as Hurricane Lane moves by the island and winds increase".
The outer bands of the storm were already dumping 1 to 3 inches an hour of rain on parts of the Big Island as the eastern side of the island was under a flash flood warning, said Gavin Shigesato, a NWS meteorologist said.
Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier in Honolulu said its winds had slowed overnight from 160 miles per hour to 155 miles per hour (259 to 250 kph), prompting a downgrade from a Category 5 to a Category 4 hurricane.
Governor Ige said: "I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact".
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"So there is no other way for the forecasters to see what exactly is inside the storm and what's going on until we get there", US Airforce Hurricane Hunter Kimberly Spusta said.
As of 11 p.m. (0900 GMT Thursday), the storm was centered 235 miles (380 km) south-southwest of Kailua-Kona, the weather service said.
The National Weather Service said tropical-storm-force winds could begin as early as Wednesday afternoon on the Big Island.
Oahu island, which includes the capital Honolulu and most of the state's population, is under a hurricane warning, along with Maui County and Hawaii County. "Everyone was in a panic", said Thao Nguyen, 35, an employee at a Honolulu branch of Hawaiian shirt retailer Roberta Oaks.
Norwegian Cruise Line modified Pride of America's current itinerary to stay clear of Lane, a major hurricane that is forecast to track dangerously close to the Hawaiian Islands from Thursday through Saturday, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
People have been rushing to stores for supplies and are stocking up on canned foods, ramen, water and toilet paper.
Governor Ige also stated that US President Donald Trump approved a request for emergency aid, allowing the region to have access to federal resources for restoration.
A small group of volunteers from Arizona traveled to Hawaii with the American Red Cross on Wednesday to help residents prepare for and recover from an incoming hurricane. A government report on that storm recorded six people dead and more than 100 injured.