Warnings Dropped : Tropical Storm Lane Moves Away From Hawaii

by Kim Boateng Posted on August 25th, 2018

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA : The National Weather Service (NWS) has dropped all warnings as tropical storm Lane moves away from Hawaii.

“All tropical storm watches and warnings associated with Tropical Storm Lane have been cancelled across the Hawaiian Islands. The threat of localized heavy rains will continue through the weekend”, NWS said

The storm began moving to the west, breaking its northward march toward Honolulu after drenching the Big Island and Maui over the past two days.

The slow-moving storm, moving less than 5 mph, dumped nearly four feet of rain on the Big Island and about a foot on Maui before it was downgraded Friday to a tropical storm from a hurricane.

The storm was about 110 miles south of Honolulu, but the state’s most populous city was largely spared from any impacts.

The National Weather Service recorded about 2.3 inches of rain on Oahu in a 24-hour period ending early Saturday.

Shops along the famed Waikiki beach in Honolulu were reopening for the tourists.

Forecasters had said as much as 10 more inches (25 centimeters) of rain could fall on parts of Oahu and Maui.

“Don’t let your guard down,” Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said during a briefing early Saturday in Washington.

Rain began falling several days ago on the Big Island, which has received nearly 4 feet (1.2 meters) in some areas. Authorities rescued people from more than 20 homes overnight, Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe said, and landslides and pooling water forced the temporary closure of several highways.

Tropical Storm Lane drenched parts of Hawaii with about four feet of rain as it crept past the state on Saturday, causing flash floods and prompting evacuations even as it dissipated over the islands’ rugged slopes.

The storm had weakened over several days from a Category 5 storm, with maximum winds now reaching up to 60 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. But its plodding pace — just 3 m.p.h. — prolonged the rains. Some 46 inches fell on the eastern side of the Island of Hawaii, where landslides shut down roads and search-and-rescue efforts were underway. Flash flood warnings were still in effect on Saturday morning.

Kelly Wooten, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii County Civil Defense, which has been coordinating the emergency response in hard-hit areas on Hawaii Island, said the agency had not yet been able to assess the damage from the storm. She said police, fire and other departments were working to keep people off the roads, as some areas were still under water.

Ms. Wooten said no injuries or deaths had been reported so far. The county would be clearing debris and opening closed roads over the next few days, she added, as it recovered from a series of landslides.

“Over the last couple of days, it was just one after another,” Ms. Wooten said. “They would be cleaned up by a road crew and then another one would happen down the road.”

Although the storm’s winds are expected to continue weakening, and Lane is expected to turn west before it hits the islands, the Weather Service continued to warn of “life-threatening flash flooding” far beyond the storm’s center.

In Hilo, on Hawaii Island, residents on Friday posted images and videos on social media of streets that had turned into rushing rivers and of cars inundated by the floods.

By Saturday morning, low-lying areas of downtown Hilo were flooded, and the main road along the waterfront, Route 19, was closed and under water. Huge trees that had been uprooted and stripped of their leaves by the storm were floating in the bay, and a sports field had turned into a mud slick. But much of the water had receded and many shops and businesses were open, even though more heavy rain was in the forecast.

About 25 miles south of Hilo, in Pahoa, residents who only months ago endured spewing lava from an erupting volcano said that despite the rains and strong winds on Friday, they had been spared the worst of the flooding.

Doug Callison, 51, an assistant manager at a 7-Eleven store in Pahoa, said he had not heard of any major problems in town, though most businesses had closed for the storm. “If the lava didn’t scare us,” he said, “this is nothing.”

Still, deliveries were suspended because of canceled cargo flights and closed ports. “It’s all dry goods and Spam,” Jonathan Wright, 44, said.

Mr. Wright said he had gone to Hilo with his children on Friday to surf, taking advantage of the waves brought by the storm. They were stuck in Hilo overnight, he said, because of road closings.

“There were rapids in the place of roads,” he said. “You just see the whole mountain coming down. You could see waves next to your window. You could see cars being pushed sideways along the road.”

The Weather Service lifted a tropical storm warning for Hawaii Island on Saturday, but Ms. Wooten said the authorities were still on watch until the “threat is completely over.”

The epic rains were reminiscent of Hurricane Harvey, which one year ago weakened as it approached Houston but then stalled over the city, swamping tens of thousands of homes in record-breaking downpours.

Lane also prompted memories of the flooding that devastated part of the Island of Kauai in April. Fifty inches of rain were recorded in one day on Kauai.

At Hilo International Airport, rainfall from Wednesday to Friday totaled nearly 32 inches — the wettest three-day period on record, according to the Weather Service.

Direct hits by hurricanes on Hawaii are unusual, in part because of the small size of the islands, the relatively cool waters around them and the wind shear, which weakens storms.

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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