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Strong winds ease slightly as weather system passes north of Big Isle

  • Dan Nakaso

    City officials asked the public to remain vigilant and indoors during a press conference today about the weather.


    High winds uprooted a 70-foot-tall kiawe tree near the fountain at Kapiolani Park this morning, partially blocking one Waikiki-bound lane of traffic. City employees and the Honolulu Fire Department were on scene to remove the tree.


    A tree came down on Hiana Place in Waipahu, blocking cars from going in or coming out. Honolulu police reported first and then the Honolulu Fire Department was called to slice up the tree and get it out of the way — in a torrential downpour.


    Honolulu Police work to erect safety tape as high winds cracked a large banyan tree on Kalaimoku Street in Waikiki today.


    Gnarled waves brought on by the low pressure storm hit Pupukea Beach Park today.


    Palm trees along Kamehameha Hwy were windswept above the traffic today.


    Rough surf pounded Waimea Bay this morning.


    Crews work on a tree in Waikiki this afternoon.

UPDATE: Monday 4:45 a.m.

Although a statewide high wind warning has been canceled, a high surf warning is in effect for all islands along with scattered weather warnings and advisories as the low-pressure system passes north of Hawaii island this morning.

A high wind warning, however, has been posted for Big Isle summits as National Weather Service officials forecast westerly winds of 90 to 120 mph with gusts up to 150 mph this morning, decreasing to 50 to 70 mph with gusts to 85 mph by late afternoon today. The warning is in effect through 6 p.m.

A wind advisory is in effect for the rest of the Big Island, except for the west side, until noon today. Northwesterly winds of 20 to 35 mph with gusts up to 55 mph are expected over interior and eastern sections, weather officials say.

“Winds will be strongest over and downslope from the higher terrain, and where most efficiently funneled around the terrain and through valleys,” the NWS said in its advisory. “This includes the city of Hilo where strong north to northwest winds are expected briefly during the morning hours.”

The north-facing shores of the Big Island should brace for surf of 15 to 25 feet today as the low-pressure system passes near the island, located about 200 miles north shortly after 3 a.m. today. Surf up to 25 to 35 feet this morning, lowering to 20 to 25 feet this afternoon is expected along the north and west shores of Kauai County, Oahu’s North Shore and the north shores of Maui and Molokai. The west shores of Oahu and Molokai can expect surf up to 12 to 20 feet this afternoon.

A high surf warning is in effect for the Big Island through 6 p.m. today.

“Large breaking surf, significant shorebreak, and dangerous currents make entering the water very hazardous,” the NWS said in a bulletin.

Snow showers and freezing fog are expected atop Haleakala this morning as a band of enhanced moisture over Maui heads east away from the island, weather officials say.

A winter weather advisory is in effect for the Haleakala summit through noon today.

“Plan on slippery road conditions along with blowing and drifting snow,” the advisory said. “Additional snow accumulation of less than 1 inch is expected.”

8:45 p.m.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources noted that snow fell at a state park today. Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area on Maui was blanketed in snow.

DLNR officials said it could mark the lowest elevation snowfall has ever been recorded in the state. Polipoli is at an elevation of 6,200 feet.

Hawaiian Electric tweeted it’s been restoring power across Oahu communities today. Customers with outages should call 1-855-304-1212 or go online to

A statewide high wind warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. Monday.

6:30 p.m.

City and County of Honolulu crews with the assistance of state Department of Transportation are trimming tree branches on a big Waikiki banyan tree after strong winds blew off branches onto the crosswalk.

Honolulu police are rerouting traffic on Kuhio Avenue in both directions between Kalaimoku Avenue and Kaiolu to Kalakaua Avenue.

Crews plan to reopen roads after they finish trimming down the tree branches.

4 p.m.

The City and County asked the public to stay away from Oahu’s north and west shores due to massive storm surf washing over the road.

2:30 p.m.

Around the islands, the state Department of Transportation reported that:

>> Trees are reportedly down on Kauai, including a fallen tree at Kuamoo Road and Lilia Place. The traffic signal at Kuhio Highway and Kuamoo is out due to a power outage and drivers should expect delays.

>> High winds on Oahu caused pole damage on Kunia Road, and a tree and power line to fall on the Honolulu-bound lanes of the Pali Highway at Waokanaka Street; A tree fell on the west-bound lanes of the H-1 Freeway near the School Street on-ramp; A tree fell on the Kailua-bound lanes of the Pali Highway by Nuuanu Pali Drive; And crews continue to clear branches on the Liliha Street on-ramp to the eastbound H-1 freeway.

>> On Maui, there are reports of fallen trees on the Hana Highway near mile marker 14 or 15; on Kekaulike and Honoapiilani highways south of Kai Hele Ku Street. Crews are also monitoring wave action on Honoapiilani Highway at Ukumehame.

A contractor is responding to flashing traffic signals on Haleakala Highway that were damaged; Traffic signals on Honoapiilani Highway at Waiko Road, Piikana, and Kuikahi are also out due to power outage.

>> On Hawaii island, Bayfront Highway was closed due to high surf and is scheduled to remain closed through Wednesday.

2 p.m.

Two ground hornbill birds escaped from the Honolulu Zoo after a branch or tree fell on their enclosure today.

One was last seen heading toward the Ala Moana area and the other toward Kapiolani Boulevard.

Only one ground hornbill was thought to have escaped, but Mayor Kirk Caldwell told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that its companion also is on the loose.

He described the initial escaped bird as “kind of a large bird, black, not very pretty looking in my mind.”

It has red skin on its throat and head and is “bigger than a chicken. It walks on the ground.”

Anyone who sees either bird should call 911.

Along with the zoo, the Wahiawa and Foster botanical gardens are closed because of the risk of falling trees and branches.

All city camping sites also will remain closed through Monday.

As many as 25,000 Hawaiian Electric Co. customers are without power and there could be isolated outages leaving as many as 30,000 “folks that are being inconvenienced,” Caldwell said.

“We’ve had reports of trees down, power outages, traffic signals malfunctioning,” Caldwell said.

He asked residents to postpone putting their trash or recycling bins out until as late as possible Monday morning, so they don’t blow away tonight.

1:25 p.m.

Three people — a motorist in Kunia and two pedestrians in Waikiki — suffered minor injuries today when they were hit by wind-whipped branches, trees or utility poles.

The first injury occurred near the Hawaii Country Club “when a wooden pole snapped because of the wind” and fell on a vehicle, causing an arm injury to the driver, according to Honolulu Police Capt. Thomas Santos.

This afternoon, two Waikiki pedestrians were injured by separate wind-blown branches or trees — one on Kalia Road and one on Paoakalani Avenue.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell today reminded people to stay home, if possible, and definitely away from shorelines.

Hirokazu “Hiro” Toiya, director of the city’s Department of Emergency Management, said winds of 48 mph were reported at Daniel K. Inouye Airport and 55 mph at Waianae today.

12:57 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard requests the public’s assistance in identifying the owner of an unmanned kayak found adrift approximately 100 yards off Lanikai earlier today.

A good Samaritan notified the Coast Guard at 7:30 a.m. of a green, two-person kayak spotted drifting offshore. A MH-65 helicopter was sent from Air Station Barbers Point in response, which was unable to spot anyone in the water in the immediate area.

Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

There are currently no reports of missing persons in the area, according to the USCG. Anyone with information about the kayak is asked to call 808-842-2600.

11:44 a.m.

The Honolulu Zoo closed early today, due to falling branches from high winds in the area.

The city announced the closure was effective as of 11:45 a.m. The situation will be reassessed on Monday morning.

11:14 a.m.

A downed tree has forced the closure of the right lane of the west-bound H-1 freeway near the School Street on-ramp. Drivers in the area are urged to use caution.

11:11 a.m.

Kauai utility crews “are responding to numerous outages throughout the island. Power is being restored as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so. Because outages are numerous and widespread, and our manpower is limited, members should prepare for extended outages until the weather passes.”

Utility crews are automatically notified of outages from customers with smart meters.

People should not “go within 30 feet of a downed line,” according to Kauai County officials.

Downed lines, or other power related issues, can be reported by calling 246-4300 and selecting option 5.

11:01 a.m.

Waimea Bay Beach Park is closed due to a downed power line near the park entrance and rough ocean conditions.

On Kauai, the Department of Water issued an immediate water conservation notice for all customers in Wainiha, Haena and Hanalei due to an electrical power outage affecting the well pumps and system.

Customers are asked to limit water use to essential uses only in order to avoid a full water service outage.

Essential water uses includes cooking, bathing and sanitation purposes. Water customers are asked to avoid washing vehicles, turn off fixtures that automatically draw water, including outdoor irrigation systems.

To monitor updates online, visit

10:05 a.m.

High winds and falling trees forced the closures of Kualoa Beach Park and Nanakuli Beach Park lifeguard towers today, but lifeguards are on duty and warning people to stay away from the shorelines and off of roads.

No rescues have been reported on either north or west shore beaches today.

There are no plans to keep lifeguards on overtime, according to Shayne Enright, spokeswoman for the city’s Emergency Services Department.

In addition, the left lane of Pali Highway at Waokanaka Street, Honolulu-bound, is partially blocked by a downed tree and power lines. Hawaiian Electric Co. crews are on the scene.

10:00 a.m.

HECO reports power has been restored to affected customers in Pupukea, Sunset Beach and Waimea.

8:35 a.m.

Hawaiian Electric Company troubleshooters are responding to a power outage on Oahu’s north shore, where approximately 1,000 customers are without power this morning.

HECO said the outage was reported at 7:50 a.m. and is affecting residents in Pupukea, Sunset Beach and Waimea.

Power is expected to be restored to the area around 9 a.m.

7:47 a.m.

The City and County of Honolulu has partially activated its Emergency Operations Center, according to the city’s Department of Emergency Management.

The move brings DEM staff and first responders together in a central location alongside members of the Hawaii Red Cross to quickly respond to incidents islandwide.

7:40 a.m

Hawaii County officials report the following are closed today due to potentially hazardous weather conditions:

>> All Hawaii County beach parks and camp sites

>> All state beach parks and camp sites

>> Mauna Kea Recreation Area

>> Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa summit areas

>> Namakani Pa’io Volcano National Park campground

>> Waipio Valley (open to Waipio residents only)

>> Bayfront Highway


The National Weather Service in Honolulu has extended a high wind warning for Oahu until 6 a.m. Monday.

As of approximately 3:30 a.m. today, winds were blowing from the west at 25 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 60 mph. They are expected to shift to the northwest and peak later this afternoon into the evening, with strongest gusts over and downslope from higher terrain as well as through valley areas.

The NWS warns that winds this strong can make driving hazardous, cause damage to homes and result in dangerous flying debris. A higher number of downed trees and increased possibility of widespread power outages are also possible.

As of 5 a.m. today, a high surf advisory remains in effect for Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii island; waves of 40 to 60 feet are expected along the north and west shores of Kauai and north shore of Oahu along with Molokai and Maui. West Oahu may see waves of up to 30 to 40 feet in height, while waves 8 to 12 feet high are expected on the west side of Hawaii island.

A high surf advisory is also in effect for the north shore of Hawaii island, with surf rising from to 10 to 16-foot level to 14 to 20 feet by tonight. Lanai, Kahoolawe and west Maui can expect waves from 8 to 12 feet in height.

High surf can result in damage to property along coastlines and ocean water affecting roadways, plus significant beach erosion and extreme harbor surges. Authorities urge visitors and residents to stay off beaches until conditions improve.

The city is discouraging outdoor activities such as surfing and hiking and warn that winds could cause trees and branches to fall without warning. Visitors are especially warned not to climb on rocky ledges near the ocean because of the danger of getting swept out to sea.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is urging residents and tourists to remain vigilant as the storm is expected to move closer to the islands.

“Waves will be unruly and disorganized,” the city said in a statement.

The American Red Cross this morning planned to open a shelter at Waialua District Park at 67-180 Goodale Ave. in Waialua for residents evacuated from their homes due to potential costal flooding.

The Red Cross also opened a shelter Saturday night on Kauai at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center at 4260 Kene St.

Brigham Young University Hawaii has opened a shelter at its campus in Laie that would be available to public, according to the Red Cross.

The National Park Service warned of the possibility of hurricane force winds for the Summit District of Haleakala National Park. The park service warned that closures may occur without notice through midnight tonight because of visitor and employee safety.

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