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Heavy rainfall possible on west Oahu tonight; Kauai warning lifted

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 8:25 p.m. HST, Jan 17, 2012

The storm that prompted the closure of Hanalei School and the Kuhio Highway at the Hanalei River is moving over Oahu this afternoon, bringing the possibility of heavy winds and thunderstorms.

The weather service had issued a wind advisory for north and east sections of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai and Maui earlier today, but all advisories and warnings were lifted at around 5 p.m.. The winds from the south are expected to peak early this afternoon with gusts of up to 50 mph and then diminish tonight. The winds could bring down tree branches and make driving difficult.

A line of heavy showers and isolated thunderstorms will continue through tonight in waters off Kauai and Oahu. Hazy conditions prevail across the state, according to the National Weather Service. More typical tradewind weather will return by Friday, forecasters say.

A flash flood warning for Kauai was initially extended until 6:15 p.m., but now has been lifted.

At around 3:12 p.m., heavy rain continued to cross parts of northweastern Kauai, and there was a road closure in Keapana Valley due to flooding from Kealia Stream.

Kauai County officials closed the Kuhio Highway at 12:05 p.m. near the Hanalei Bridge. The road will reopen when officials believe it is safe to cross again.

Locations in the warning include, Haena, Wainiha, Na Pali State Park, Moloaa, Kalaalu Valley, Princeville, Kilauea, Kapaa, Hanalei and Anahola.

The heavy rain and thunderstorms are associated with a weather system northwest of Kauai that should weaken by this evening. The system is also responsible for the southerly winds that are bringing the vog and humidity to Oahu.

William Arakaki, superintendent of the Kauai DOE complex, said the 226 students at Hanalei Elementary School were released at 9 a.m. because of concern that the Hanalei River might flood. Also released this morning were Kapaa Middle and Kapaa High School students who live across the Hanalei River in Hanalei and Haena.

“The river can rise very quickly,” Arakaki said just before 9 a.m.

Hanalei Elementary School is expected to reopen for classes Wednesday, Arakaki said.

As of 8 a.m., 5.4 inches of rain fell on Mt. Waialeale over a 24-hour period.

Overnight, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative reported several weather-related power outages caused by trees downing power lines. At 9:30 a.m., a few customers in Hanamaulu and Kokee were without electricity because of the heavy winds.

The forecast for today and tonight calls for mostly cloudy and hazy skies with frequent showers and locally heavy rainfall on Kauai and Oahu. The southerly winds of 15 ro 20 mph with higher gusts should weaken to 15 mph tonight, forecasters say.

The wind advisory includes, Lihue, Princeville, Poipu, Kokee State Park, Haleiwa, Waialua, Kahuku, Punaluu, Laie, Kailua, Kaneohe, Waimanalo, Mililani, Wahiawa, Pearl City, Makakilo, Kalaupapa, Wailuku, Kahului, Hana and Makawao.

As the weather system weakens, winds should gradually shift and become variable on Wednesday and Thursday and trade winds from the northeast should return Friday. The vog will likely remain over Oahu until then, forecasters say.

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