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Heavy rains cause flooding, havoc on Maui, Big Isle

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Showers continued to drench Maui Wednesday night, placing the island under a flash flood warning overnight, according to the National Weather Service, which also issued a flash flood watch for the Big Island and the rest of Maui County.

The warning was issued through 1:15 a.m. Thursday with forecasters noting that at 10:19 p.m., radar showed “heavy rain near Honokohau and across windward Haleakala slopes. Rain was falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour over saturated ground. Area rivers are at or near flood stage. Flash flooding is expected to begin shortly.”

The warning included Kahului, Kapalua, Honokohau, Kahakuloa, Puunene, Haliimaile, Pauwela, Waikapu, Lahaina, Paia, Makawao and Wailuku.

The flash flood watch included Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokai and was set to expire at 6 a.m. Thursday. It could be extended, the forecaster said.

On Maui, the island was drenched for most of the day.

Flash flooding was already occurring and police closed numerous roads because of flooding and landslides. Forecasters urged the public to avoid travel until rainfall and water levels receded.

Earlier Wednesday, Maui officials said the county’s Emergency Operations Center was on a level 3 activation, meaning all Maui Emergency Management Agency personnel were monitoring the weather situation.

In the morning, Maui officials said heavy rainfall forced the following areas to close:

>> Central Maui landfill due to flood-damaged roads.

>> Waiehu Golf Course after 5 inches of rainfall were reported and all the greens were flooded.

>> Kahana Park.

>> Kahekili Highway between mile posts 7 and 8.

>> Hana Highway near Kaupakalua Road because of a landslide.

>> Puunene Avenue between Kamehameha and Wakea.

>> Hana Highway near Dairy Road.

>> Aleo Place, Holua Drive, Pala Circle, Lalo Street, Hukilike Street, and Kamehameha and Lono avenues.

In Hawaii County, the Department of Public Works reported Wednesday night that all roads are open except Kukila Street in Hilo.

A winter storm warning was also in effect for Big Island summits above 12,000 feet until 6 a.m. Thursday. Additional snow accumulations of six to 10 inches were expected.

Meanwhile, a high surf advisory was in effect for north- and east-facing shores of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Big Island and the North Shore of Niihau through 6 p.m. Thursday.

Surf was expected to reach 15 to 20 feet along north shores of Maui, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai and Niihau. Eastern shores were expected to see surf of 4 to 8 feet. Forecasters warned of strong breaking waves and powerful currents that could make swimming dangerous.

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