• Thursday, September 20, 2018
  • 86°

Top News| Weather

Flash flood warning in effect for Molokai as Olivia bears down on Maui County

  • Meteorologist Kait Parker looks at the forecast for Tropical Storm Olivia.
    Weather Channel
  • Tropical Storm Olivia maintained strength as it headed west toward Maui County. On Oahu, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced city services will be operating Wednesday.
    Video: Diane S. W. Lee
  • CENTRAL PACIFIC HURRICANE CENTER

    The 5-day forecast track for Tropical Storm Olivia as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

  • NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

    Satellite images show Tropical Storm Olivia moving toward Hawaii.

ADVERTISING

UPDATE: 4:20 a.m.

A flash flood warning is in effect for Molokai as Tropical Storm Olivia bears down on Maui County.

At 3:16 a.m., a stream gauge on Kaunakakai Gulch showed a rapid water level rise that will likely overflow the channel and flood Mauna Loa Highway just west of Kaunakakai town. Persistent rain has been falling upslope of this area as moisture from Olivia inundates the island.

“Flash flooding is expected to begin shortly,” the National Weather Service said in a bulletin. The flash flood warning is in effect through 6:15 a.m.

Locations in the warning include, but are not limited to, Hoolehua, Maunaloa, Kualapuu, Kalaupapa National Park, Ualapue, Halawa Valley, Kepuhi, Kaunakakai, Pukoo, Kamalo and Kawela.

As of 2 a.m., Olivia was located about 95 miles east of Kahului and 195 miles east of Honolulu with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and heading west-southwest at 7 mph, according to the Central pacific Hurricane Center.

A general motion toward the west-southwest, with a gradual increase in forward speed, is expected this morning as the center of Olivia approaches Maui and the Big Island. On the forecast track, Olivia will move very close to Maui later this morning. After Olivia moves past the islands, a somewhat faster west-southwest motion is expected to resume and continue for the next couple of days.

Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph with higher gusts. Some weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Olivia is expected to remain a tropical storm for the next day or so.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from Olivia’s center, mainly to the north of the center.

11 p.m.

As of 11 p.m., Olivia was about 90 miles east of Hana and 220 miles east of Honolulu heading west-southwest at 8 mph, with maximum sustained winds around 45 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extend out 90 miles from Olivia’s center, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

The latest five-day forecast “cone of uncertainty” has shifted further south to include parts of the Big Island.

As the system edges closer, forecasters said to expect moisture to spread across the island chain. Intense rainfall is possible, especially along the east facing slopes.

The tropical storm warning for Kauai and Niihau has discontinued but remains in effect for Oahu, Maui County and the Big Island.

A flash flood watch remains in effect for all islands through Thursday night.

“The heaviest rain threat may shift to Kauai starting Thursday as a low aloft interacts with the moisture from Olivia,” the National Weather Service said. “Total rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches with isolated amounts to 8 inches are possible on Kauai.”

In West Maui, officials are worried about landslides because brushfires during Hurricane Lane three weeks ago wiped out vegetation, Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said.

8 p.m.

Tropical Storm Olivia continues to move southwest across the isles tonight.

As of 8 p.m., Olivia was about 105 miles east of Hana and 230 miles east of Honolulu heading southwest at 8 mph, with maximum sustained winds around 50 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extend out 105 miles from Olivia’s center, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa warned that residents should plan for power outages, landslides, high surf, fallen trees and flooded roads.

Scott Zaffram, a senior response official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said emergency teams and supplies are ready on Maui.

The National Guard has mobilized personnel and trucks to the east side of Maui, said Herman Andaya, administrator of the county’s emergency management agency.

On Oahu, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has partially activated the city’s Emergency Operations Center as of 6 p.m. tonight, with a full activation planned for Wednesday at 6 a.m.

Full activation means staffing 24 hours a day until a decision is made to deactivate.

“Tropical storm Olivia continues to weaken but we’re not out of the woods,” said Caldwell. “Tonight into tomorrow morning we could see heavy rain and tropical storm force winds, both of which have the potential to cause significant damage.”

Although the latest five-day forecast “cone of uncertainty” has shifted south and no longer includes Oahu, there remains a continued threat for tropical storm force winds as Olivia closes in.

Eight storm shelters on Oahu are now open. Click here for the list of locations.

5 p.m.

Gov. David Ige is asking President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration for Hawaii as Tropical Storm Olivia approaches Maui County with strong winds, dangerous surf and flooding rain.

As of 5 p.m., Olivia was about 115 miles east of Hana and 245 miles east of Honolulu heading west at 15 mph, with maximum sustained winds around 50 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extend out 105 miles from Olivia’s center, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

The latest five-day forecast “cone of uncertainty” has shifted south and no longer includes Oahu. The 5 p.m. cone includes Maui, Lanai and the northern tip of the Big Island. However meteorologists have cautioned against focusing too much on any particular forecast track since tropical cyclones can deliver heavy rain and high winds far from the storm’s center.

Hurricane center forecasters said, “Olivia is expected to become a remnant low within 72 hours, but there is a decent chance this will happen even sooner.”

Nonetheless, they continue to warn that the effect of Olivia moves across the main islands could mean worse impacts than August’s Hurricane Lane for some areas. “Those impacts could include flooding rainfall, damaging winds, and large and dangerous surf,” they warn.

Olivia’s center is expected to continue moving toward the west-southwest over the next 48 hours.

The entire state is under a tropical storm warning and a flash flood watch, as well as a high surf warning for eastern shores from the Big Island to Oahu, and a high surf advisory for eastern shores of Kauai and Lanai.

Schools, courts and government offices will be closed Wednesday on Maui County; Olivia is expected to start hitting the islands overnight.

Ige is seeking help from military aircraft to fly people between islands if that becomes necessary. He’s also asking for help with potential medical evacuations and emergency power generation for the possibility of widespread power outages.

Due to the tropical storm conditions forecast for Maui County, Hawaiian Airlines is cancelling Wednesday’s flights for its commuter airline, Ohana by Hawaiian. All other Hawaiian Airlines flights are expected to operate as scheduled.

Olivia has the potential to cause widespread and catastrophic flooding and wind damage, forecasters warn.

The National Weather Service says Olivia could drop 10 to 15 inches of rain in some areas, though some areas could get more, depending on the wind direction.

Olivia’s outer rain bands today have already resulted in a brown water advisory issued for Maui. The Hawaii Department of Health advises the public to stay out of flood waters and stormwater runoff due to “possible overflowing cesspools, sewer, manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals, and associated flood debris.”

Maui County and the Red Cross are opening seven shelters today on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

On Oahu, Mayor Kirk Caldwell says most city operations will be operating as usual Wednesday, but the city is also opening eight shelters. City buses will also be running normally.

In addition, all DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife lands, including forest reserves, natural area reserves, game management areas, wildlife sanctuaries, public hunting areas and Na Ala Hele trails will close at sunset tonight.

2:25 p.m.

Tropical Storm Olivia’s winds continued to weaken over the last few hours but the storm has picked up speed on its way to Hawaii.

At 2 p.m., Olivia had maximum sustained winds near 55 mph with higher gusts, down 5 mph from the 11 a.m. update, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. The storm has started its expected turn to the west-southwest and was moving at 21 mph. This general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days

The storm was about 135 miles northeast of Hilo and 260 miles east of Honolulu. Tropical storm-force winds extend out 90 miles from the center.

On the forecast track, Olivia will be moving across the main islands tonight and Wednesday as a tropical storm, with Maui County expected to get hit first.

The entire state remains under a tropical storm warning.

11:45 a.m.

Public schools on Maui, Molokai and Lanai will be closed Wednesday due to Tropical Storm Olivia, state officials announced today. All other schools statewide will be open Wednesday, they said.

State Department of Education offices in Maui County will also be shut Wednesday, according to a news release.

Hana High & Elementary School was already closed today in anticipation of the storm, which is expected to hit Maui this evening with heavy rain and strong winds. After-school programs were canceled today in Maui County and will remain closed Wednesday.

“In order to give our families on Maui, Molokai and Lanai time to prepare, and with the early release time on Wednesday, we will be closing all Maui County schools and offices in anticipation of the storm’s arrival,” said schools superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “We appreciate everyone’s patience during this time as we work with our partner agencies to monitor the storm, and we will continue to make decisions based on the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”

DOE officials said they will continue to provide updates about cancellations and closures on the department’s website and on Twitter and Facebook. Information on state charter school closures can be found at the Public Charter School Commission’s website, or by contacting individual schools directly. Officials said all three charter schools in Maui County have also announced closures tomorrow. They are Kihei Charter, Kualapuu Charter and HTA Charter schools.

11 a.m.

Kauai County joins the rest of Hawaii under a tropical storm warning as Tropical Storm Olivia nears the islands.

Located about 275 miles east of Kahului and 360 miles east of Honolulu at 11 a.m., Olivia’s maximum sustained winds were clocked at 60 mph as the storm heads west at 17 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. This follows previous forecasts of Olivia gradually weakening but gaining forward speed. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the center.

“A slight turn toward the west-southwest is expected later today. This general motion will then continue for the next couple of days. On the forecast track, Olivia will be moving across the main Hawaiian islands tonight and Wednesday,” forecasters said at 11 a.m.

They said it is possible that the tropical storm warning for the Big Island could be canceled later today if the westward motion continues, while the “increasing shear over Olivia makes reintensification in the near term quite unlikely.”

Forecasters warn of the following possible impacts:

>> “Winds will increase over parts of the main Hawaiian islands this afternoon as Olivia approaches. Wind gusts can be much stronger near higher terrain, particularly through gaps between mountains and where winds blow downslope. Tropical storm conditions are expected over portions of Maui County and the Big Island starting later today or tonight. Tropical storm conditions are expected over Oahu starting tonight. Tropical storm conditions are possible over Kauai County starting late tonight or Wednesday morning.”

>> “Showers will continue to increase over portions of the main Hawaiian islands today ahead of Tropical Storm Olivia. Olivia is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 5 to 10 inches in some areas, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches possible, especially in higher terrain. This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding.”

>> “Large swells generated by Olivia will impact the main Hawaiian islands over the next couple of days. This will result in dangerously high and potentially damaging surf, mainly along exposed east facing shores.”

8 a.m.

Holding at the same strength and track, Tropical Storm Olivia remains on course for the Hawaiian Islands.

Located about 240 miles east-northeast of Kahului and 380 miles east of Honolulu, Olivia clocked in with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was headed west at 10 mph at 5 a.m. today, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Ahead of Olivia’s arrival, National Park Service officials announced curtailed hours for many of their visitor attractions.

Showers will continue to gradually increase over portions of the main Hawaiian Islands today ahead of Tropical Storm Olivia. However, CPHC officials have revised down their projected rainfall totals. Olivia is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 5 to 10 inches in some areas, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches possible, especially in higher terrain, weather officials said.

Hawaii island will also likely see lower rainfall totals than initially forecast.

Deanna Marks, the official in charge of the Data Collection Office for NWS in Hilo, said at a Hawaii island Civil Defense briefing this morning the latest projections are the approaching storm could soak windward and southeast portions of the island with 2 to 4 inches of rain, with 6 inches falling in some areas.

“It looks like it is going to take that southwesterly turn later today, and unfortunately impact Maui more so than the Big Island,” she said.

The Kona side of the island could see 1 to 3 inches “and absolute worst case scenario would be 4 to 6 inches,” with isolated areas receiving 8 inches, she said. Those projections cover the duration of the storm from tonight through Thursday morning, she said.

Waimea and Kohala could see some “gustier winds,” especially in the Kohala mountain area. The wind impact area for the storm has been shrinking, and “on the south side of the storm, the wind field is very small. It’s not extending very far south, it extends northward much more.” The strongest winds are at the northeast quadrant of the storm, she said.

NWS still has a high surf warning in effect, but “as far as surf goes, we’re backing off on that as well,” Marks said. The latest projection is for 10- to 15-foot surf, “and that would be on the very high end,” she said.

“We’re not expecting as extreme impacts as initially expected (for Hawaii island)” with the track of the storm pushing north toward Maui, she said.

7:40 a.m.

The National Weather Service expects Tropical Storm Olivia to dump 10 to 15 inches of rain, and possibly up to 20 inches of rain, on parts of Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island late tonight and into Wednesday.

The rain is expected to come out of the east, along with tropical storm force winds in the upper 30 mph range beginning tonight for Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island, said forecaster Maureen Ballard.

While winds could reach 39 mph, Ballard said, isolated “gusts could be significantly higher.”

Kauai remains under a tropical storm watch. Olivia’s path will determine whether the Garden Isle will get hit with significant rain and wind, which could arrive late Wednesday, Ballard said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

Slightly weaker this morning, Tropical Storm Olivia remains on course for the Hawaiian Islands.

Located about 355 miles east-northeast of Kahului and 440 miles east of Honolulu, Olivia clocked in with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was headed west at 10 mph at 5 a.m. today, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

A turn to the west-southwest is expected later today, with a slight increase in forward speed. This general motion will then continue for the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the center of Olivia will be moving over portions of the main Hawaiian Islands late tonight into Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph with higher gusts. Gradual weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, but Olivia is expected to remain a tropical storm as it moves over the islands.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from Olivia’s center.

Although Olivia is expected to move over the islands as a tropical storm, weather officials warned that “it could still bring significantly worse impacts than recent Hurricane Lane. Those impacts could include intense flooding rainfall, damaging winds, and large and dangerous surf.”

CPHC officials also advised people in areas that will be affected by Olivia to not focus on the exact forecast track and intensity when planning. “Significant impacts can be expected away from the center,” the CPHC said in a bulletin. “In particular, the mountainous terrain of Hawaii can produce localized areas of strongly enhanced wind gusts and rainfall.”

A tropical storm warning also remains in effect for all islands except Kauai, which is under a tropical storm watch, and a flash flood watch is in effect for the entire state from this evening through late Thursday night.

Tropical storm conditions are expected over Maui County and the Big Island starting this evening, weather officials said. Tropical storm conditions are expected over Oahu starting Wednesday morning. Tropical storm conditions are possible over Kauai County starting Wednesday afternoon or evening.

“Olivia is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 10 to 15 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches possible, especially in higher terrain,” the CPHC said in a bulletin. “This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding.”

Forecasters warned that “rain events of this size can cause widespread flooding and can affect areas that do not usually flood. 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. Numerous landslides are expected, especially along the Hana Highway on Maui and the Mamalahoa Highway on the Big Island.”

A high surf warning is in effect for eastern shores of the Big Island and Maui County until 6 p.m. Wednesday, with 10 to 14 feet waves today, rising to up to 20 feet tonight. Eastern shores of Oahu are under a high surf advisory, which may be upgraded to a warning, forecasters said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


SORRY COMMENTS DISABLED FOR THIS STORY!
[ COMMENTS HAVE BEEN DISABLED FOR THIS STORY ]

Scroll Up