Dangerous storm threatens havoc across Hawaiian archipelago

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HONOLULU — From the empty shores of Oahu’s Waikiki Beach to the icy summit of the Big Island’s highest peak, an unusually strong winter storm is engulfing the Hawaiian Islands and increasing the risk of dangerous flooding, landslides and crashing tree limbs Used to be.

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A strong storm that hit the country’s only island state left the fledgling couple without marriage and imprisoned in tourist homes. It also threatened state infrastructure from rain and wind flooding, and five boys aged 9 to 10 were rescued from a raging drain by Honolulu Fire Department staff, an agency statement said.

Weather officials warned that slow-moving thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rain could continue through Wednesday, and Governor David Ige on Monday night issued a state of emergency for all of the state’s islands.

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Veterans and survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor 80 years ago plan to meet at Pearl Harbor Tuesday morning for anniversary celebrations. Navy spokeswoman Brenda Way told the Associated Press in an email on Monday that she had not heard any discussion of the program being canceled because of the storm.

The National Weather Service said the storm brings a risk of “catastrophic flooding” in the coming days as the low pressure system slowly moves from east to west and rests along the archipelago’s edge. The storm knocked out power in communities across Hawaii, and the worst rain was falling on Oahu, the state’s most populous island, on Monday evening.

People scramble to get out of the heavy rain at Waikiki Beach.
AP
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“Now is the time to make sure you have an emergency plan and the supplies ready you need to move away from rising water,” Ige said in a statement.

In Oahu, where four shelters opened, most of Waikiki’s beaches were empty on Monday as only a few people walked with umbrellas during heavy rain. Roads in the area were flooded and cars passed through the city as water leaked out of manhole covers.

On Maui, power outages and flooding have already been reported, with some areas receiving more than a foot (30 cm) of rain.

Beach-goers play in the rain at Waikiki Beach.
Beach-goers play in the rain at Waikiki Beach.
AP

Incessant rains have forced three couples from America’s mainland to postpone their Maui getaways, said Nicole Bonanno, owner of Bella Bloom Florals, a wedding florist and boutique in Wailea.

Bonanno said flower deliveries were also delayed because of the weather, with a lei company without electricity and employees flooding streets laden with debris.

“Roads, everything is messed up,” she said. “Too many trees are down.”

Maui resident Jimmy Gomes waited for the lights to come on at his home on Monday after a power outage at 6 p.m. Sunday. His rain gauge measured 7 inches (17.78 cm): “I haven’t seen rain like this in a long time,” he said.

A car turns into a flooded Cook Street on Monday, December 6, 2021 in Honolulu.
A car turns into a flooded Cook Street on Monday, December 6, 2021 in Honolulu.
AP

“Last night the wind was thundering,” he said. “But this morning, the fog actually came and it rained, then it stopped.”

Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth declared a state of emergency on Sunday for possible heavy rain and strong winds.

Weather officials said some areas south of Hilo received extremely heavy rains over the weekend.

According to the National Weather Service, there is still a risk of flash floods, lightning, landslides and strong winds across all islands for the next two days.

Oahu and Kauai experienced storms on Monday and Tuesday. But for Maui and the Big Island, which are already drenched, “it’s not really going to be a lot of extra rain to cause major problems,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist Robert Ballard.

A pedestrian tries to cross the flooded Queen Street on Monday, December 6, 2021 in Honolulu.
A pedestrian tries to cross the flooded Queen Street on Monday, December 6, 2021 in Honolulu.
AP

The winter weather system known as “Kona Low” prompted emergency alerts throughout the weekend, providing wind, rain and even blizzard conditions at some of Hawaii’s highest points.

A blizzard warning was issued over the weekend for the Big Island, the state’s highest peak.

Snow is not rare at the summit of Mauna Kea, which is about 14,000 feet (4,270 m) high. The last time a blizzard warning was issued for the summit was in 2018. No residents live on the summit, but there are telescope observatories and other offices where officials work.

The Weather Service said there were reports of 8 inches (20 cm) of snow on the road below the top of Mauna Kea, and officials were working to get to the summit to obtain more measurements. One foot of snow was expected to fall on the top of the mountain.

Beach-goers are seen on Waikiki Beach, with storm clouds in the background.
Beach-goers are seen on Waikiki Beach, with storm clouds in the background.
AP

Strong winds were also blowing over Mauna Kea at about 90 mph (138 kph).

Strong winds were also seen in other low-altitude areas, according to weather officials, with gusts of over 50 mph (80 kph) being recorded at many places across the state.

Kona Low is a type of low pressure system that forms near Hawaii during the winter season, and it has some unique meteorological features, said Ballard, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Hawaii.

“What we see is a huge amount of tropical moisture is pulled in from the equatorial regions. The Kona lows move slowly and so they can concentrate heavy rain and thunder showers over an area over a long period of time, and they are damaging Can generate winds that are too strong,” Ballard said.

A strong storm filled with high winds and extremely heavy rain has toppled roads and power lines and tree branches across Hawaii.
A strong storm filled with high winds and extremely heavy rain has toppled roads and power lines and tree branches across Hawaii.
AP

Hawaii has old dams throughout the state that have been problematic during past storms. In 2006, an earthen wall of Kauai’s Caloco Reservoir collapsed during heavy rains and a wave of water and mud ran down a hill. Seven people including a pregnant woman died in this.

Rains in March raised fears that a dam on Maui had ruptured when floodwaters destroyed homes and inundated roadways. The same storm system brought devastating flooding to Oahu and landslides on Kauai.

Ballard said other state and federal agencies monitor dams, but these are conditions that people need to be careful of.

“It’s just a situation that we need to monitor and be aware of and make sure people understand that this is a situation where we could have a flash flood,” Ballard said.

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