A powerful storm with high winds and extremely heavy rain flooded roads and knocked out power across Hawaii on Monday, with officials warning of potentially worse conditions to come.
The National Weather Service warned that a low-pressure system moving slowly from east to west and lingering on the edge of the archipelago would bring the threat of “catastrophic flooding” in the coming days.
In a statement issued Monday night, Gov. David Ige said, “Now is the time to make sure you have an emergency plan in place and supplies ready should you need to evacuate because of rising water.” Ige declared a state of emergency for all of the state’s islands.
In Waikiki, the majority of the beaches were deserted Monday as only a few people walked around with umbrellas during passing heavy rains on Oahu, where four shelters had been set up to accommodate the storm. Flooding had occurred on the roads in the area, and cars were forced to crawl through downtown as water gushed out of manhole covers.
Five boys, ages 9-10, were rescued from a raging stream by members of the Honolulu Fire Department, according to a fire department statement.
One boy was rescued after he lost his grip on a branch and was carried downstream by the rushing waters to the safety of firefighters who were stationed nearby and grabbed him. firefighters used a ladder to rescue another boy further downstream, and they then jumped into the stream to rescue the other three boys, according to a statement released by the department.
None of the boys were hurt, and the fire department stated that they had gone into the stream to play after school, according to them.
Power outages and flooding have already been reported on the Hawaiian island of Maui, where more than a foot (30 centimeters) of rain has fallen in some areas.
Three couples from the United States mainland were forced to postpone their Maui elopements because of the relentless rain, according to Nicole Bonanno, owner of Bella Bloom Floral, a wedding florist and boutique in Wailea.
According to Bonanno, the weather also caused flower deliveries to be delayed, a lei company to be without power, and employees to have to brave flooded roads that were littered with debris.
“The roads, everything, is a complete mess,” she lamented. “There are a lot of trees that have fallen.”
Jimmy Gomes, a resident of Maui, was waiting for the power to be restored to his home on Monday after losing power at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Seven inches (17.78 centimeters) of rain fell, according to his rain gauge: This is the first time he has seen this much rain in a long time, he said.
“Last night, the wind was howling,” he remarked emphatically. The weather was foggy this morning, and it rained for a while before ceasing completely.
Mayor Mitch Roth of the Big Island declared a state of emergency on Sunday due to the possibility of heavy rainfall and strong winds.
According to the National Weather Service, flash flooding, lightning strikes, landslides, and strong winds will continue to be a threat on all islands over the next two days.
The storm is expected to hit the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai on Monday and Tuesday. According to Robert Ballard, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “it is not going to take a lot more rain to really cause big problems” on Maui or the Big Island, which have already been soaked by the rain.
The winter weather system known as a “Kona low” prompted emergency alerts throughout the weekend, bringing wind, rain, and even blizzard conditions to some of Hawaii’s highest elevations. The system was responsible for the emergency alerts.
On the Big Island of Hawaii, a blizzard warning has been issued for the weekend for the state’s highest peak.
At the summit of Mauna Kea, which stands nearly 14,000 feet (4,270 meters) above sea level, snow is not uncommon. The most recent time a blizzard warning was issued for the summit was in the year 2018. There are no permanent residents at the summit, but there are observatories for telescopes and other offices where officials can be found.
The National Weather Service reported that there was 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow on the road below the summit of Mauna Kea, and that officials were working to get to the summit in order to take more measurements of the situation. The mountain’s summit was expected to receive a foot of snow, according to the forecast.
There were also strong winds, with gusts of nearly 90 mph (138 kph) recorded atop Mauna Kea, the highest point on the Hawaiian island.
Winds were also strong in other parts of the state, particularly at lower elevations, with gusts exceeding 50 mph (80 kph) recorded at several locations across the state, according to weather officials.
According to Ballard, the National Weather Service’s science and operations officer in Hawaii, a Kona low is a type of low-pressure system that forms near Hawaii during the winter season and has some distinct meteorological characteristics.
As a result, a tremendous amount of tropical moisture is drawn up from equatorial regions, as we have seen in the past.” “Because Kona lows tend to move slowly, they can keep heavy rain and thunder showers concentrated over a single area for an extended period of time,” Ballard explained. “They can also produce fairly strong to damaging winds,” Ballard added.
Many of Hawaii’s dams are over 100 years old, and they have proven to be problematic during previous storms. During heavy rains on Kauai in 2006, an earthen wall surrounding the Kaloko Reservoir collapsed, causing a wave of water and mud to rush down a hillside and into the ocean. A total of seven people were killed, including a pregnant woman.
When floodwaters destroyed homes and inundated roadways on the Hawaiian island of Maui in March, there were fears that a dam had been breached. The same storm system caused devastating floods on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and a landslide on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Ballard stated that other state and federal agencies monitor dams, but that it is under these conditions that people should exercise caution.
In the meantime, Ballard said, “it’s just a situation that we need to keep an eye on and be alert to, and make sure that people understand that this is the type of situation where we can get flash flooding that happens very, very quickly.”