comscore Darby brings power outages, road closures to Big Island, Maui | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Darby brings power outages, road closures to Big Island, Maui

  • COURTESY HAWAII ELECTRIC LIGHT

    A Hawaii Electric Light crew works to clear a fallen albizia tree from power lines in Pohoiki.

  • COURTESY NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

    Darby made landfall on the Kau Coast of the Big Island about 2 p.m. today as a weak tropical storm.

  • DARYL LEE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER Issac Hale Beach Park in Pohoiki
  • DARYL LEE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER Issac Hale Beach Park in Pohoiki

Update 9:15 p.m.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. said its crews have been responding to outages due to high winds from Tropical Storm Darby tonight.

At 9:15 p.m., about 1,000 customers in lower Puna were without power, along with a few customers in Hamakua, upper Puna and Kona.

The majority of outages were caused by fallen trees, tree branches and tree bark contacting power lines, Hawaii Electric light said in a press release tonight.

“Our crews work to safely restore power as quickly as possible but the abundance of trees near lines creates hazards and challenges for our crews,” said Rhea Lee-Moku, public information officer. “On Friday afternoon an albizia tree brought down power lines in Pohoiki. After the fallen tree was cleared, crews worked on Saturday to repair the lines. Just as they were preparing to re-energize the lines, another tree fell, bringing the lines down again.”

Update 6 p.m.

A flash flood warning has been issued for parts of Hawaii island until 8 p.m., the National Weather Service said.

“At 4:45 p.m., radar showed that a new band of heavy rain has developed with rain moving onshore to the Puna District from the south. This band is expected to move slowly westward and spread into the Kau district. Runoff from earlier rain above Kawa Flats means that Highway 11 at that location may be vulnerable to closure with any significant additional rainfall,” the warning states.

The warning areas include, but are not limited to, Hilo, Pahoa, Mountain View, Glenwood, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Kawa Flats, forecasters said.

The state Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch, meanwhile, issued a brown water advisory for both Maui and Hawaii islands. The public is advised to stay out of flood waters and runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals, and associated flood debris, the advisory warned.

Update 4:15 p.m.

Isolated power outages affecting several thousand of customers continue to be reported on both Maui and the Big Island as a weakened Tropical Storm Darby came ashore along the Kau Coast of the Big Island this afternoon.

On Hawaii island, Hawaii Electric Light Co. has reported outages to about 3,000 residents in Hawaiian Beaches and about 2,000 in North Kohala. Meanwhile, county fire officials say they have been responding all day to car accidents and medical calls, but no major weather-related trouble.

On Maui, Maui Electric Co. spokeswoman Shayna Decker said power was out to 198 customers out in Napili from at 11:52 p.m. but was restored at 1:14 p.m. Decker said a downed tree caused power outages in Upcountry to about 100 customers. Maui Electric reported outages in Lower Nahiku, Upper Olinda and Haliimaile.

Also on Maui, the state Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch issued a brown water advisory for Honokahua due to heavy rains. The public is advised to stay out of flood waters and runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals, and associated flood debris, the advisory warned.

A Maui county spokesman said wind and rain from Darby caused some trouble this afternoon, including:

>> Kaupakalau Road in Haiku was flooded;

>> Meha and Kealaloa roads in Makawao were blocked by fallen trees;

>> Waikoloa and Ulaino roads in Hana was flooded;

>> Molokai Landfill was closed due to winds of more than 30 mph.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu said that Darby, a weak tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, made landfall about 2 p.m. along the Kau coast, not far where the much-stronger Tropical Storm Iselle struck in 2014.

Previous coverage

HILO >> The Big Island was experiencing the first throes of a weakening Tropical Storm Darby as it approached just off Hilo this afternoon.

Scattered power outages, flooded roadways and downed trees, but no major damage were reported.

Tropical Storm Darby was barely a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, and higher gusts, at 2 p.m. The center of the storm was about 45 miles south of Hilo, and is moving west at 10 mph.

At about 1:10 p.m., about 2,049 customers in North Kohala lost power, according to Hawaii Electric Light Co., which said crews were working to restore service.

This morning, there were a few reports of power outages and flooding on smaller roads on the Big Island, but the greatest impacts from the storm are expected this afternoon.

“So far we’re holding, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” county Civil Defense Administrator Ed Teixeira said.

On Maui, downed trees and landslides closed the Hana Highway in three locations, a county spokesman said this morning. The road was reopened by early afternoon.

In the 24-hour period ending at 9 a.m., nearly four inches of rain fell at West Wailuaiki and nearly 1.5 inches was recorded at Pukalani.

Park officials also closed Haleakala National Park due to the storm.

“Due to Tropical Storm Darby, Haleakala NP is closed until further notice. This closure includes the Summit, Kipahulu, and sunrise operations. We do not have an estimate as to when the park will re-open. The park will re-open when it is safe to do so,” said park spokeswoman Polly Angelakis.

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed the ports at Hilo Harbor, Kawaihae Harbor on the Big Island, Kahului Harbor on Maui, Kaumalapau on Lanai and Kaunakakai on Molokai.

Commercial vessels and barges greater than 300 gross tons are expected to make preparations to leave the Oahu by 8 p.m. today and Kauai at 7 a.m. tomorrow.

Staff at the Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo were monitoring the storm all night, but had little to do but watch and wait as the storm closely tracked the path followed by Tropical Storm Iselle two years ago, Teixeira said.

Iselle did widespread damage to the Big Island, but so far Darby has been weaker and kinder.

“All night long, we’ve really had no calls for assistance,” Teixeira said. “We just kind of monitored the approach of the storm and onset of tropical storm force winds and rain. We held through the entire night.”

Before midnight the National Weather Service reported Darby had 60 mph to 65 mph sustained winds, but those had weakened to 50 mph sustained winds this morning. The storm also slowed down in its forward speed from about 12 mph yesterday to 9 mph this morning.

“We might luck out, but it’s still too early to tell,” Teixeira said.

About 35 people checked into an emergency shelter at Hilo High School, and about a dozen took shelter at Pahoa School in Puna. Shelters in Waiakea in Hilo and Kealakehe in Kona also reported about a half-dozenpeople had checked in at those locations.

Rhea Lee-Moku, public information officer for Hawaiian Electric Light Co., said the utility is dealing with “a few pocket outages.”

Those problems mostly involved falling trees or branches, downed lines at Hinalo Street in Pohoiki that cut power to about 15 homes. Downed lines in the Kalapana Seaview subdivision cut service to about a half-dozen additional customers, and lines were also damaged in Paauilo mauka that affected about 30 homes.

Lines were also downed in Ahualoa in Hamakua and on 10th Avenue in Hawaiian Paradise Park, where tree removal crews were working this morning, Lee-Moku said.

Teixeira said most powerful winds are forecast to pass over the Big Island at 1 p.m. today.

“Certainly, it’s not over yet,” Teixeira said. “We are hopeful (but) we are still on our toes.”

______

The Star-Advertiser’s Kevin Dayton reported from Hilo; Gary Kubota reported from Maui.

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