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Hawaii News

Rain swells streams, fells trees

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This view of Mauna Kea from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration webcam on top of Mauna Loa shows snow on both Big Island mountains this morning.
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Riccardo Leone took shelter under an umbrella while relaxing at Magic Island Recreational Park on Friday morning.
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Firefighters inspected the roof at the Hawaii Pacific Plumbing Supply warehouse in Sand Island yesterday after high winds tore off about a third of it late Thursday night. The company's showroom and sales rooms also were damaged by the wind and the rain.

Soggy Hawaii residents can expect clearer skies and light and variable winds today as the remnants of this week’s severe storm system pass the island chain.

An upper-level trough and surface front that dumped heavy showers on Kauai was expected to pass over Oahu last night, according to National Weather Service lead forecaster Tom Birchard.

Birchard said forecast models correctly predicted the "unsettled" weather that closed roads, triggered blackouts and overflowed streams for the past two days. Similar forecasts indicate another batch of unsettled weather a week from tomorrow, though Birchard cautioned that such long-term forecasts can change quickly.

As the skies clear today and tomorrow, residents of the Big Island might be able to spot another remnant of the winter weather: snow at the summit of Mauna Kea.

A flash-flood watch for all islands remained in effect until 6 a.m. today, as did a winter storm warning for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Forecasters said snowfall exceeding 6 inches is expected above the 12,000-foot elevation.

The rainy season’s first major storm left behind a few downed trees and electrical lines, ponding water and minor traffic problems.

"Overall we did well and we got lucky," said John Cummings, spokesman for the city Emergency Management Department. "We were lucky that the storm moved so quickly."

Gusty winds late Thursday night tore off about a third of the roof of a Sand Island-area plumbing supply warehouse, a company official said.

"It looks like a tuna can rolled back," said Greg Myrland, branch manager of Hawaii Pacific Plumbing Supply at 1930-B Auiki St.

He said that the company’s show and sales rooms were "trashed" by the wind and the rain at about midnight Thursday.

"There was debris everywhere," Myrland said. "When you look in from the front door, it’s like a hurricane hit." Myrland said it appeared that "the wind got into the building and just lifted the roof."

He said the company hopes to resume its deliveries next week and has moved its computer operations to another part of the 15,000-square-foot building.

Honolulu Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said firefighters responded overnight Thursday to at least four alarms to assist with fallen trees in Kalihi, Waipahu, Pearl City and Nuuanu.

Darren Pai, a Hawaiian Electric Co. spokesman, said there were a number of trouble calls across Oahu but no major outages, and that all customers had power back by 8 a.m. yesterday.

On Kauai, which got the most rain, police closed the Hanalei Bridge at 7:25 p.m. Thursday, county spokeswoman Mary Daubert said. The bridge was reopened at 1:20 a.m. yesterday. There were also reports of ponding, fallen trees and scattered power outages.

The Puu Opae rain gauge on Kauai recorded 6.42 inches of rain, the most in the state, for the 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. yesterday. Other especially wet spots on Kauai included Kapahi (4.35 inches) and Puu Lua (4.16).

Most areas of Oahu got 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain in that 24-hour period, with the Punaluu Stream gauge recording the highest at 3.58 inches.

A brown-water advisory was issued for the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Molokai because of runoff from heavy showers.

The public is advised to stay out of floodwaters and storm water runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, chemicals and associated flood debris. The Health Department warning says boaters, swimmers and surfers should stay out of coastal waters if they are turbid and brown.

Star-Advertiser reporters Gregg Kakesako, Gordon Pang and Craig Gima contributed to this story.


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