POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 01:33 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2013
WAILUKU » Tropical Storm Flossie pounded Maui County for an intense two-hour period Monday evening as a spectacular lightning storm hit a power plant on Molokai and left the entire Friendly Isle in darkness.
Maui Electric Co. said lightning struck the power plant between 7:35 and 7:40 p.m. Monday, leaving the island without power for about an hour.
The skies over Central Maui were calm for most of the day with very light winds, intermittent sprinkles and extreme humidity punctuated by brief periods of clearing.
From 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, before the full force of the storm hit, Hana recorded only a half-inch of rain, and most other spots on Maui far less than that, according to the National Weather Service.
But at about 5 p.m. the weather conditions quickly worsened and winds picked up as rainfall began pelting the island and surf along the eastern shoreline increased to 8- to 10-foot swells.
The rough weather marched west from Hana toward Kahului and the West Maui Mountains, sparking blinding bolts of lightning and bone-rattling thunderclaps.
The electricity went out in most parts of Wailuku and Waiehu and in parts of Kahului, and it was still out at 8 p.m.
Early Monday night, Maui County officials were asking residents on Molokai and most of Maui to conserve water because of power failures reducing the water supply.
County spokesman Rod Antone said power had been going out all day Monday.
Antone said there had been reports of some vehicle crashes, and that visibility was so poor that at about 6:30 p.m. county bus drivers were unable to complete their routes.
"They had to park where they were, find the nearest parking lot and wait,"
In anticipation of the storm, the American Red Cross opened shelters at the War Memorial Gym in Wailuku and several other locations.
At 2 p.m. asleeping homeless man and Robin Woronko of Vancouver, British Columbia, and his family were the only occupants of the Wailuku shelter.
Woronko, his wife, Pam, and their two sons, Ethan, 10, and Avery, 6, were scheduled to take a 1 p.m. Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle, but when they arrived at the airport, they were told the flight had been canceled because of the approaching storm.
He said they were given seats on the airline's 9:15 p.m. flight to Portland, Ore., but as they turned in their rental car, they decided to wait the storm out at the emergency shelter.
While his two boys munched on snacks provided by Red Cross volunteers, Woronko said he was worried about getting back to his cabinetmaking business.
"For me it's a lot of work. I've got a ton of messages and nine employees sitting around waiting for me," he said.
"But it's not that bad. Mostly it's about dealing with tired, cranky kids."
When Ethan Woronko was asked what he thought of the experience, he replied, "It's boring."
Maui seemed to have taken its storm preparations to heart as traffic was uncharacteristically light through the Central Maui corridors, no lines were seen at gas stations and there was plenty of parking at stores.
Sunday was a different story, as residents jammed grocery and hardware stores to stock up on the necessities: water, rice, batteries, canned goods and toilet paper.
A clerk at the Longs Drugs store in Wailuku, where fewer than a dozen customers were in the aisles at 8 a.m. Monday, said the store had experienced nonstop business Sunday until its midnight closing.
Only a few single water bottles remained on the shelves Monday morning, and other stores also were sold out of cases. But there were pallets of the precious liquid on sale at the well-stocked Safeway in Kahului despite the previous day's crush.
"It was killer," said cashier Leonie Aguiran, a 30-year Safeway employee. "All the checkout stands were open, and people were in line all the way back to the meat department (at the back of the store)."
RAINFALLMeasurements, in inches, are for the 24-hour period ending at 8 p.m. Monday, before heavy rainfall struck Oahu and Kauai: