Sunday, January 2, 2005

Evidence of heavy rain was visible from the H-1 freeway near Waipahu yesterday.

Showers soak much
of Kauai and Oahu

Flooding closes bridges and
roads on the Garden Isle

The first storm of 2005 caused widespread flooding, mudslides and sinkholes big enough to swallow a car on Kauai yesterday, but no one was injured.

During the 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. yesterday, it rained from 3 to 6 inches on Kauai, even on the normally dry west side of the island.

Yesterday morning, three bridges and 14 segments of roads or highways on Kauai were closed because of high water. By late afternoon, three huge sinkholes had developed in the parking lot of the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club in Lihue, but most public roads and bridges had been reopened as waters receded, said Mark Marshall, Kauai civil defense administrator.

Most of Oahu received from one to two inches of rain during the same period. State road crews removed downed trees yesterday that temporarily blocked one lane of the H-2 freeway and Pali Highway, but there were no road closures, said Scott Ishikawa, state Transportation Department spokesman. Crews on Kauai removed mud and small rocks from roadways, he said.

Last night, the rain was falling over Maui County. National Weather Service meteorologist Ray Tanabe said he expects the front to linger over Maui and the Big Island today and tomorrow, "becoming weaker as it works its way along the island chain."

Parts of Oahu and Kauai could get scattered showers through mid-morning today. But by late afternoon, the sun could be shining over both islands. "We are on the drying-out trend," Tanabe said.

Also, the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa could see from 3 to 5 inches of snow by the end of today, the weather service predicted.

Unrelated to the passing storm front, the weather service issued a high surf advisory for north and west shores through Wednesday, with the possibility of a high surf warning by Monday.

Though things were hectic all day yesterday for Kauai Civil Defense, police and fire workers, "we've had the worst of it, so it's probably all downhill from here," Marshall said just before he shut down emergency operations at 6 p.m.

Workers at the Marriott in Lihue reported the first of three large sinkholes in the hotel parking lot about 1:30 p.m., Marshall said. "They swallowed up some trees and one car in the parking lot and two other cars are very close to one of the sinkholes," he said.

The openings at the surface range from 17 to 40 feet across and one hole looks to be 20 to 30 feet deep, Marshall said. "In one all you can see is the car bumper in the water," he said.

The affected parking areas have been barricaded off and the hotel is operating normally, said hotel operations manager Tony Pedroni.

Flooding was widespread on roadways and in yards, but there were no confirmation of water getting into homes and no rescues, said Kauai Fire Department Acting Battalion Chief Albert Kaui.

Some homeowners voluntarily evacuated homes in Waialua and Hanapepe. The Red Cross temporarily opened emergency shelters in Waimea, Kapaa and Kaloa, but closed them after several hours when no one used them, Marshall said.

National Weather Service - Hawaii
www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/ NWS Hawaii radar
Hawaii satellite image -- infrared
Hawaii satellite image -- visible light

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