Hawaii deluge triggers emergency declaration

by mcardinal


Hawaii is recouping on Wednesday from torrential downpours that caused flooding, triggered landslide warnings and prompted the state to take emergency action.

A stalled “kona low” weather system brought up to 12 inches (30 cm) of rain over three days, although actual amounts varied greatly throughout the islands’ mountainous terrain, the National Weather Service said.

“Rain events of this size can cause catastrophic flooding and affect areas that do not usually flood,” the NWS said in a bulletin from his Honolulu office. “Numerous landslides are expected in areas with steep terrain.”

On Monday, the deluge prompted Governor David Ige to issue an emergency declaration that will remain in effect through Friday.

“The emergency declaration allows the state to use funds to support state and county efforts in providing quick and efficient relief of suffering, damage, and losses caused by flooding and other effects of heavy rains,” Ige said in a statement.

Five people were rescued on Monday night from a swollen stream near Oahu’s Pali Highway, the Honolulu Fire Department said in a statement. At least 42,000 power outages were reported as a result of the storm and dozens of houses were flooded.

Four shelters were set up in the capital city of Honolulu, the Oahu Department of Emergency Management said.

“It’s a kind of a typical pattern for Hawaii that can produce heavy rain,” said meteorologist Bob Oravec of the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

“It’s not something that happens, obviously, every day, but it can happen every year,” Oravec said.

The system also brought snow and high winds to some Big Island mountain tops a few days ago, including Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano where the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFH Telescope) observatory is located. The NWS said such high-elevation snowfalls are “fairly common.”

Most of the rain moved away from the eastern-most islands, the big island of Hawaii and Maui, by Tuesday evening.

Copyright 2021 Thomson/Reuters (Adapted for FISM News by Michael Cardinal)