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High winds to subside but could return

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Wind in Kaneohe overturned trash bins and broke tree branches Monday. A branch blocked a pedestrian’s path on Haiku Road near Windward Mall.
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The high winds that damaged and disrupted parts of Windward Oahu on Monday could return later in the week, the National Weather Service is warning.

A wind advisory for parts of Oahu, Kauai, Molo­kai, Maui and Lanai — with 30 to 50 mph wind from the southwest and gusts exceeding 60 mph — was set to expire at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

But weather service meteo­rologist Ian Morrison warned that similar high winds could return Friday evening and Saturday.

A small-craft advisory and high-surf warning are expected to stay in effect through Wednesday, and surf is expected to remain elevated through this week. A small-craft advisory is issued when winds are stronger than 25 knots (28.75 mph) and seas are higher than 10 feet.

And a high-wind warning for Hawaii island summits, with gusts topping 80 mph, is expected to remain in place through 6 p.m. Wednesday.

High winds Monday downed trees, prompted the evacuation of a Windward Oahu school cafeteria and closed a popular hiking area on Maui.

The winds were expected to subside over most of the Hawaiian Islands by Tuesday morning, but they will remain brisk, blowing between 10 and 20 mph, said Morrison.

Strong wind ripped off portions of Keolu Elementary School’s cafeteria roof Monday afternoon, prompting officials to close the Kai­lua campus Tuesday.

The state Department of Education said its facilities crews were unable to secure the damaged area and clear debris due to ongoing gusts.

"The strong winds are unpredictable at this point, and until we can ensure that the campus is safe for everyone, Keolu will be closed," Suzanne Mulcahy, complex-area superintendent for the Kai­lua-Kala­heo complex, said in a statement.

About 50 first- and second-grade students were in Keolu Elementary’s cafeteria when the roof was damaged at about 11:40 a.m. Monday. The building was evacuated, and the school’s remaining students were served lunch in their classrooms.

No one was injured, but the Hono­lulu Fire Department was called to the school for initial assistance, according to the DOE. Keolu Elementary has 145 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Monday’s gusty conditions also caused disruptions at other Windward-area schools. Mulcahy said after-school activities were canceled at Pope Elementary and Wai­ma­nalo Elementary and Intermediate, but those schools will be in session Tuesday.

On Maui, Hale­akala National Park’s Hosmer Grove was closed Monday afternoon due to downed trees. Park officials said the hiking area will be reopened when it is safe to do so.

Also on Monday, high winds caused power failures in various areas, mainly on Oahu’s Windward side. Among the affected areas were Hawaii Kai, Wai­ma­nalo, Kai­lua, Kane­ohe, Kaha­luu and Mau­na­wili, Hawaiian Electric Co. spokes­man Darren Pai said.

Pai said the outages were caused by a downed tree, fallen branches and a toppled utility pole in Wai­ma­nalo.

Hawaii Pacific University student Wayne Puaoi said he was studying at his home in Ahui­manu Monday afternoon when he heard something flapping outside and spotted a portion of his neighbor’s tin roof caught up in the wind.

"A good chunk of it was coming off," Puaoi said.

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