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Hawaii News

Storm soaks isles, causes waste spill

    Matt Perkins made his way along Kona Street near Pensacola Street in Honolulu. The street was closed Sunday due to flooding caused by heavy rain from Hurricane Ana.
    Maryanne Fisher, of League City, Texas, said she plans to spend the rest of the day in the hotel bar with her husband, Mike.
    Manoa Stream swelled near Manoa Valley District Park fed by heavy rain from Hurricane Ana.
    Pedestrians navigated pooling water at Kapiolani Boulevard near Ala Moana Center.

The dangerous winds of Hurricane Ana missed Kauai and Oahu by just over 50 miles Sunday, but the outer edge of the storm soaked Oahu with more than 24 hours of continuous rain, caused a wastewater spill off Sand Island and left some streets underwater.

National Weather Service meteorologist Christopher Brenchley said 40- to 50-mph sustained winds would have hit Oahu and Kauai if the storm’s center had been 50 miles closer, blowing off roofs, knocking down trees and setting off major power outages.

“Nobody even realizes it,” Brenchley said, adding that he hopes the storm’s minor impacts don’t discourage people from taking the danger of hurricanes seriously. Hurricane season lasts until Nov. 30, enough time for another storm, he said.

“We hope that people will take every storm seriously, and every storm is different,” he said.

At its peak Ana had sustained winds of 80 mph and was 200 miles wide. The center of the storm came as close as 140 miles to Oahu, 100 miles to Kauai and 70 miles to Niihau. Ana was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm Sunday afternoon.

At 2 p.m. Ana was moving west at 6 mph with 75 mph sustained winds and was about 120 miles southwest of Lihue, Brenchley said. Wind shear was expected to weaken the system, but forecasters expected Ana to become a hurricane again far to the west of the islands, no longer a threat.

The skies will begin clearing across the state from the east, but wet weather and muggy conditions will persist Monday on Kauai and Oahu because there aren’t enough tradewinds to blow away moisture left behind by the storm, Brenchley said.

That’s because a front to the northeast of Hawaii is disrupting the tradewinds from a high-pressure system — the same system that kept Ana to the south of Kauai and Nii­hau. Typical tradewinds are expected to return Wednesday night, the weather service said.

Brenchley said Ana soaked much of the islands by Sunday afternoon. Some of the rainfall totals: 3 to 5 inches on Kauai, 1.5 to 8 inches on Oahu, 1 to 4 inches on Maui and Molo­kai, and 1 to 12 inches on Hawaii island. Storm-generated surf was up to 15 feet on south and southeast shores.

An additional 3 to 6 inches of rain was expected for Oahu, Kauai and Nii­hau, which remained under a flash flood watch until 6 p.m. Monday.

On Kauai, downed trees blocked Puu­opae Road in Wai­lua Homesteads and Malu­hia Road in Koloa. Fallen tree branches also closed Wai­lua Golf Course and Salt Pond and Poipu beach parks.

Kauai remains under a tropical storm warning until further notice. Oahu was under a flash flood warning until 8 p.m. Sunday.

For Gary Hiramatsu, who was walking home from his job at Pier 1 Imports at Ward Centers, the day-and-night rain seemed like it would never end, but protected by his umbrella, he said he didn’t mind.

“I kind of like this,” he said, adding that he planned to cozy up with something warm to eat while watching football at home. “I’m glad it’s not a hurricane.”

Honolulu Ocean Safety personnel conducted 14 rescues and took 1,085 preventive actions Sunday.

Ocean Safety spokes­woman Shayne Enright said surfers were present on the North Shore and that surfers and experienced bodyboarders were out at Sandy Beach, but beaches were mostly empty as steady rain buffeted the island.

There was one rescue and 450 preventive measures taken on the South Shore on Sunday. On the East Shore there were six rescues — most at Sandy Beach — and 135 preventive measures taken. Along the North Shore there were five rescues and 425 preventive measures; an additional two rescues and 75 preventive measures were recorded on the Leeward side.

Overall, there were no major incidents or injuries along Oahu beaches over the weekend, Enright said.

Meanwhile about 4,700 Hawaiian Electric Co. customers in Mili­lani Mauka lost power at 3:25 p.m.

HECO crews restored service to all customers in the area shortly after 6 p.m.

Peter Hirai, deputy director of the city Department of Emergency Management, said the storm caused little damage on Oahu.

A surge of water generated by Ana resulted in 5,000 gallons of wastewater spilling into Hono­lulu Harbor on Sunday morning, city officials said.

According to the Hono­lulu Department of Environmental Services, incoming water overflowed a primary clarifier, sending partially treated wastewater into a storm drain leading to the harbor around 11 a.m.

The overflow also caused a small short-circuit fire in the basement of the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. The fire was extinguished on its own. No injuries were reported.

The state Department of Health waived water sampling due to the weather, but signs are expected to be posted at the harbor Monday morning.

Hirai said city crews were busy Sunday pumping water out of flooded streets or clearing blockages in streams.

Crews pumped floodwater from Ala Wai Boulevard near Niu Street and near Kala­kaua Avenue and Lewers Street. City workers also cleared blockages in Kaele­pulu Stream near Buzz’s Original Steakhouse in Kai­lua and in a canal near the Times Supermarket at Kahala Mall.

Firefighters responded to nine requests by Sunday afternoon to pump out flooded driveways, but no damage was reported, Hirai said.

Landon DePeralta, 23, of Pearl City waded in water past his ankles on Kona Street to check on his Mistu­bi­shi Eclipse, which stalled there Saturday night.

“My engine soaked up water,” DePeralta said while smoking a cigarette in the rain. “My engine is basically shot.”

He left a note on his dash asking that his car not be removed until he could get it towed away.

Around the island, drivers were cautious and slowing down to avoid splashing others, said Hirai, who was able to watch the activity from city traffic cameras.

“We dodged a bullet again,” he said, referring to Tropical Storm Iselle, which mainly affected Hawaii island. “We had about the same effects as when we get a big thunderstorm.”

By 8 a.m. Sunday the city closed its five shelters as the threat of tropical storm-force winds diminished. Seventy-one people and three animals stayed at the shelters Saturday night.

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