Flooding of the upscale Reed’s Island neighborhood in Hilo prompted the evacuation of about 40 people Thursday night and closed an array of roads across East Hawaii as the slow-moving Hurricane Lane dumped as much as 30 inches of rain on some portions of the island.
The cross-island Daniel K. Inouye Highway, better known as Saddle Road, was closed at the 10.5 mile marker Thursday evening after flooding caused a landslide that dumped rocks and debris on the roadway. One lane re-opened shortly before 6:30 a.m. this morning.
Highway 19, the major arterial between Hilo and Waimea, was also closed after flooding severed the road at mile marker 2.6, mile marker 14 and at Maulua Gulch
Waianuenue Avenue was also closed above Akolea Road for a time on Wednesday, cutting off a residential neighborhood above Hilo. Other closures because of flooding included Lehua Street in Honokaa, Kapuna Street in Ahualoa, and Wainaku Street in Hilo, but county officials said that is only a partial list f blocked and flooded roadways.
“Until further notice, the rains will continue,” Mayor Harry Kim told his staff at a briefing in Hilo this morning. “What else do you need to know?”
The National Weather Service is predicting total accumulations of rainfall could reach 40 inches in some isolated areas. So far, Lane has dumped 33 inches of rain on Hakalau as of this morning, and a rain gauge station in Waiakea recorded 26 inches.
The hurricane will dump another 6 to 10 inches of rain on the northern and eastern portions of the island today, and another 4 to 8 inches on Kau and the southeast portion of the island. About 3 to 6 inches of rain are expected in West Hawaii and the Kailua-Kona area, according to the National Weather Service.
Winds of 40 mph to 60 mph were reported along Queen Kaahumanu Highway this morning, but there were no immediate reports of damage. Winds gusted to as much as 68 mph in the Kohala mountains last night, and were still gusting to 60 mph this morning, said Deanna Marks, official-in-charge of the Hilo Data Collection Office for National Weather Service.
Hurricane Lane, now a Category 2 hurricane, is expected to make its closest pass by West Hawaii this afternoon when it approaches to within 120 miles dues west of Kailua-Kona, Marks said.
The county has opened 11 evacuation shelters on the island, but only 44 people had opted to stay in them this morning including 15 in Waiakea High School.
Kim expressed frustration with the slow progress of Hurricane Lane, which has now slowed to 5 mph or a comfortable walking pace. The slow progress of the system gives it more time to dump rain on the island.
“East side, I don’t want any more rescues,” he said, recalling the rescues of stranded hikers on a ridge at Waimanu Thursday afternoon. “Everybody just stay home, OK?”