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Flash flood warning extended for Oahu as heavy rain continues

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A chicken swims today in a drainage ditch along Kamehameha Highway in Kahaluu.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Rick Altizer places a neighbor’s dog back into its yard after it escaped today during the downpour along Lilipuna Road in Kaneohe.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Honolulu Department of Facility Maintenance workers pump out a storm drain today along Kamehameha Highway in Kahuluu to clear an obstructed pipe.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Ryan Ell stands by a drainage grate he cleared as run-off churns into it this afternoon on Lulani Street in Kahaluu.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Water cascades over a lava wall at 47-070 Kamehameha Highway in Kahaluu during today’s massive downpour.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Brandi Wilson and Danielle Kuoha clear debris today from a mudslide along Lulani Street in Kahuluu.

  • COURTESY NWS

Updated 8:45 p.m.:

A storm that blanketed the state today, causing flash floods that trapped motorists near Waikane, lightning strikes that damaged property in Kaneohe and road closures on several islands, could continue dumping more rain on the islands Monday, the National Weather Service said.

“The best hope is it’s not as widespread across the entire state,” forecaster Alex Gibbs said tonight. “As far as what you’re seeing right now, that potential exists for tomorrow.”

There could be intermittent periods when the rain stops and skies remain overcast, but forecasters can’t pinpoint those periods, Gibbs said.

A flash flood warning expired tonight for Oahu and Maui, but remains in effect until at least 10 p.m. for Hawaii island.

A flash-flood watch for all islands was set to expire Monday afternoon, and more rain could quickly lead to flooding because the ground is saturated, the weather service said.

Honolulu Fire Capt. Kevin Mokulehua said firefighters responded to 33 weather-related incidents beginning Saturday night, mostly in Windward Oahu. This afternoon, firefighters and a good Samaritan rescued several motorists caught in flooding on Kamehameha Highway near Waikane.

About 25 firefighters arrived at a site near Waikane Store at about 1:10 p.m. and found three vehicles stranded in 2 to 3 feet of water — a pickup with a man inside, a minivan with a woman and child inside, and a sedan that appeared to have been abandoned by its driver.

Mokulehua said floodwaters were moving at about 17 mph.

The good Samaritan drove a tractor into the water to get firefighters closer to the victims. Firefighters then retrieved the woman and child using rescue boards, rope and life vests. They also rescued the man, and the vehicles were left in the water.

No one was injured. Flooding closed the road for several hours between Waikane Valley Road and Kualoa Ranch. It was reopened at about 6:30 p.m.

Kailua resident Rich Taylor, 32, was driving to Kualoa Ranch for his wedding, which he and his wife had been planning for a year and a half.

About the same time firefighters were trying to rescue the stranded motorists, Kualoa Ranch called him to say the wedding had to be canceled for safety reasons.

The couple now plan to marry on Tuesday.

He and some in the wedding party stopped at a store in Kahaluu after receiving the news and spent part of the day helping push motorists out of flooding water.

On Saturday night, a lightning strike blasted a hole through the roof of a Kaneohe resident.

Ben Cole, who lives at Windward Estates, said he was watching TV when the bolt hit, causing an explosion that stunned him and momentarily left his home in darkness. The lights came back on and he looked out his front door to see what had exploded when he realized rain was coming into his home from a hole in his ceiling about 7 feet long and 2 feet wide.

“It was like someone threw a concussion grenade in my house,” he said. “My ears were ringing for hours afterwards.”

He said firefighters came to help and laid tarp on the stairwell to channel the rainwater out of the house. They weren’t able to get on the roof because of the heavy rain and lightning.

Christopher Zarka, the resident manager for the property, said he saw the lightning strike while closing a glass door.

The bolt hit the roof on one unit and traveled horizontally across the roof of three or four other units, leaving a trail of damaged tiles. Another bolt hit at the same time, striking the ground about 10 feet away from a nearby unit — where a resident had been standing while walking his dog only moments before, he said.

He said he thought a car had exploded.

“Lots of sparks, but no fire,” he said.

On Maui, flooding closed Kahekili Highway between Makaala Drive and Waiehu Beach Road, officials said. Downed trees blocking roads were reported on Oahu and the Big Island.

About 5:30 p.m. today, rain was falling at more than 4 inches per hour in Niu Valley and Hawaii Kai, the weather service said.

Oahu appeared to receive most of the rainfall in the 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. Waiahole received 14.2 inches of rain, Kahana recorded 13.4 inches, and both Punaluu Stream and Ahuimanu Loop gauges recorded 11 inches.

Updated 5:43 p.m.:

A flash flood warning has been extended for Oahu to 8:45 p.m.

Radar showed a band of heavy rainfall moving across East Oahu at about 5:30 p.m., traveling northbound at about 15 miles an hour, the National Weather Service said. Rain was falling at a rate of more than 4 inches per hour at Niu Valley and Hawaii Kai.

Updated 5:30 p.m.:

A flash flood warning has been extended for Maui and is set to expire for Oahu as heavy rain continued to drench both islands.

The flash flood warning for Maui has been extended to 6:30 p.m. today and a flash flood watch for the island is set to expire tomorrow afternoon.

At 5:05 p.m., heavy rain continued falling over parts of Maui with the most intense rainfall in the Upcountry region, from Keokea to Makawao, the National Weather Service said.

The flash flood warning for Oahu expires at 5:45 p.m. At about 4 p.m., heavy rain was reported in the Maunawili area, causing a rapid rise in Makawao Stream, the weather service said.

Kamehameha Highway near Waikane remains closed near Waikane and bus service for route 55 between Turtle Bay and the Hygenic Store has been canceled, said Honolulu County spokesman Andrew Pereira. Flooding on Kamehameha Highway also stranded motorists who had to be rescued by firefighters this afternoon near Waikane.

Honolulu officials opened the Emergency Operations Center Saturday night because of the weather and are monitoring conditions.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden was closed today because of the persistent rain last night and today. Trees were also reported to be down on Auloa Road near Pali Highway and in Maunawili this afternoon, Pereira said.

On Maui, Kahekili Highway was closed between Makaala Drive and Waiehu Beach Road because of flash flooding, said Maui County spokesman Rod Antone.

He said to avoid Iao Valley Road, River Road in Waihee, Kahikili Road, Lower Waiehu Beach Road and Kahikili Highway because of flooding.

Previous coverage:

A flash flood warning has been extended for Oahu to 5:45 p.m. today as heavy rainfall developed over Central and West Oahu.

The National Weather Service said radar indicated rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches an hour in those areas at about 2:50 p.m.

Additional rainfall was expected to move over Oahu over the next few hours, and heavy rainfall was continuing over Windward Oahu from Waimanalo to Kahuku, the weather service said.

Police said Kamehameha Highway was closed between Waikane Valley Road and Kualoa Ranch because of flooding and a mudslide.

Boulders were reported on the roadway, as well as small landslides in Windward Oahu.

A flash flood warning was also in effect for Maui and was scheduled to expire at 3:30 p.m. Radar indicated heavy rain moving over Maui and runoff from those showers was expected to flow downstream in the Wailuku River. The weather service said Iao Valley Road and Waiehu Beach Road were closed.

Meanwhile, a flash flood watch remained in effect for all islands through Monday afternoon. The widespread heavy rain was being caused by a large amount of low-level moisture combining with a strong disturbance aloft, the weather service said.

A special marine warning has been extended for Maui County windward waters until 4:15 p.m. today. A line of strong thunderstorms is clustered over coastal waters north and northeast of Maui and Molokai. Wind gusts are reported at 34 knots and higher. Small crafts could be damaged in higher winds and higher waves.

A winter weather advisory was issued this morning for Hawaii island summits above 10,500 feet through Monday afternoon. Two to four inches of snow is expected.

Abundant low to mid level moisture will remain over the island through the weekend. As a strong upper level trough moves overhead today and tonight, moderate to heavy snow showers and thunderstorms will likely develop.

Drivers are warned of hazardous road conditions during travel to the summits.

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