A powerful storm system pounded Hawaii on Monday with heavy rain, and forecasters warned of a chance for “dangerous” and “catastrophic” flooding in some parts of the state.
Over two feet of rain is possible in some areas; widespread amounts of 10 to 15 inches are likely. Nearly one foot of rain has already fallen in Kula on Maui over the last 24 hours.
“Expect widespread heavy rainfall with this system, especially under the large heavy rain band, capable of producing catastrophic flooding, and strong gusty southerly winds through Wednesday,” the National Weather Service in Honolulu said.
A flood watch remains in effect through Tuesday afternoon local time for all Hawaii Islands.
Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth declared a state of emergency for his island, warning residents about the threat of significant flooding, high winds and thunderstorms, Hawaii News Now said.
“Low spots in roads will become dangerous and impassable due to severe runoff. Debris in streams and gulches may clog bridges and culverts resulting in dangerous flooding,” the Weather Service said.
Ahead of the storm’s worst impacts, Gov. David Ige on Sunday urged residents to prepare for the potential of major flooding, landslides, road closures and damage to homes, according to Hawaii News Now.
“Now is the time to make sure you have an emergency plan in place and supplies ready should you need to move away from rising water,” the governor said in a news release.
Public schools in Hawaii’s Maui County were closed Monday because of the potential for flooding, CNN said.
As a precaution, the city and county of Honolulu is opening four emergency shelters ahead of the Kona low storm that is anticipated to impact Oahu starting tonight, Honolulu mayor Rick Blangiardi tweeted Monday morning.
Extreme Kona low
A ‘Kona low’ is responsible for pulling deep tropical moisture over the state bringing with it large bands of heavy rain.
Kona low storms are a type of seasonal cyclone in the Hawaiian Islands, usually formed in the winter from winds coming from the westerly “Kona” direction, the weather service said. Kona lows often bring about wet and “unsettled” weather.
Although the blizzard warning issued for the summits of Hawaii’s Big Island was canceled early Monday, snow continued to fall there. An additional 4 inches of snow was possible there, the Weather Service said.
“Although Hawaii has the reputation of year-round warmth, snow actually makes a yearly appearance atop some of its highest peaks,” AccuWeather meteorologist Lauren Hyde said.
Blizzard warnings for Hawaii are rare, but not unheard of. The last blizzard warning issued by the Weather Service in Hawaii was more than three and half years ago.
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