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Strong winds cause power outages across Oahu, Maui County

Update 2:22 p.m.

Saturday’s high winds blasted through the night around Oahu, with the Honolulu Fire Department recording 146 wind-related responses as of noon today.

Fire Capt. Michael Jones said there were 89 cases of blown roofs with varying degrees of severity, 37 downed trees, six reports of arcing wires and 12 power line issues.

“Peak intensity was kind of from late afternoon yesterday through the night” with the worst of the gusts tapering off around noon today, Jones said.

Most of the calls required a single company response for damage that included portions of entire roofs coming off. In a few cases, photovoltaic and other solar panels came partially or completely loose.

In one instance, the American Red Cross was called to assist a homeowner, Jones said.

Cionita Salvador fretted through the night about the house-shaking wind that tore off roof sheeting at her home on Ala Iolani Place in Moanalua Valley.

“It was just a nightmare. I couldn’t sleep. I thought the whole roof was going to be blown away,” Salvador said.

Parts of the roof started blowing off around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and the Honolulu Fire Department came to help remove loose pieces so they wouldn’t be thrown into neighboring houses, she said.

She estimates about 95 percent of a second layer of roofing peeled off, but an earlier roof layer stayed on.

“This is the worst we’ve had,” she said of the wind damage. She and her husband have lived in the house since 1974. “We’ve had strong winds, but it never happened before — no damage or anything,” she said.

Update 12:15 p.m.

Maui Electric reported that high winds on Lanai toppled 19 poles and that all of its approximately 1,700 customers are without power.

Additional repair crews have been sent by helicopter today with no estimated time of repair, the utility said just after 9 a.m.

Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said Hawaiian Telcom lines are down as well on Lanai.

“The public should plan for extended outages,” the county said in a release. “Cell phone service on the island is operational, (but) the public is encouraged to conserve battery power for emergency calls. Residents who may not be able to call 911 can text emergencies to 911 from their cell phones.”

Ferry service and flights are operational today to Lanai, but flights were canceled Saturday due to high winds, the county said.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for Maui County until 6 p.m. for sustained winds of at least 30 miles per hour or gusts of at least 50 miles per hour.

High pressure north of the state will keep windy northeasterly trades in place through early this evening, with winds expected to diminish tonight, the Maui County Emergency Management Agency said.

On Oahu, Manoa Valley resident Steve Lane said at about 11:45 a.m. that he had been without power since about 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Tantalus side of Manoa Valley was hit with “very, very serious” gusts, with some trees down, he said.

Update 10:15 a.m.

High winds continue to impact Maui County, knocking out power on the entire island of Lanai. Maui Electric Co. officials also reported that Hawaiian Telcom lines are down as well.

Cell phone coverage is operational but the public is encouraged to conserve battery power for emergency calls.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for Maui County until 6 p.m.

A wind advisory means sustained winds could be between 30 and 50 mph, according to weather officials.

High pressure north of the state will keep northeasterly trade winds in place throughout the evening with the strongest winds over and downwind of the mountains.

Officials are urging residents to take pracaution and tie down any loose outdoor items.

Previous coverage

Strong winds and rain caused over 50 power outages across Oahu Saturday, affecting about 35,000 customers, according to the Hawaiian Electric Co.

HECO Spokeswoman Barbara Heckathorn said most outages were caused by tree branches that fell on power lines.

Residents are advised to exercise caution around downed or leaning power lines.

As of 10 p.m., approximately 6,300 customers are currently without power in Kapiolani, Aiea, Nuuanu, Manoa and Kalihi.

In a news release, Heckathorn said, “Crews will continue to work through the night to bring service back to our customers as quickly as possible.”

HECO providing the following safety tips around downed power lines:

>> Steer clear of the lines and do not touch.

>> Immediately report downed lines to HECO’s Trouble Line at 1-855-304-1212.

>> If someone is injured after coming in contact with a downed power line, call 911. Do not try to rescue the injured person as the electrical current can travel through you.

>>A downed line over a fence or guardrail can energize the barriers for several thousand yards, posing a hazard to anyone who comes in contact. Do not run away. Instead, keep your legs together and shuffle with both feet on the ground at least 30 feet away from the fence or guardrail.

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