STORM SOAKS WINDWARD OAHU
/ SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
Heavy rain forced Kahuku High and Intermediate School to close yesterday and flooded much of Koolauloa. Several Kahuku students took advantage of the closure, playing rugby in the mud at Kahuku District Park.
Lingering rain creates traffic woes
Minor rockfalls and flooding close parts of major thoroughfares
A persistent rainstorm stalled over Windward Oahu yesterday, closing schools, flooding Kamehameha Highway and clogging traffic throughout the area.
The storm was expected to linger today with Kauai under a flash-flood warning until 5 a.m. and Oahu, Kauai and Niihau under a flash-flood watch until 4 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Kauai likely will catch the brunt of the storm, forecasters said.
Despite the heavy rain and a flash flood warning until 12:30 this morning, no serious flooding had been reported in Windward Oahu as of 10 p.m.
At 8:22 p.m., however, Honolulu police closed Kamehameha Highway in both directions at the Waikane Bridge for almost two hours because of water on the road. Oahu Civil Defense was assisting with traffic control.
Earlier in the day, cars and trucks splashed through water several inches deep flowing over short stretches of Kamehameha Highway between Waikane and Punaluu.
Traffic was stopped briefly at about noon and again at 3 p.m. on Kamehameha Highway near Kualoa Ranch for state Department of Transportation workers to remove rocks that had been washed onto the road, said transportation spokesman Scott Ishikawa.
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In Manoa Valley, flood waters filled Manoa Stream threatened overflow its banks at the Woodlawn Ave. bridge.
Transportation crews also cleaned up water-driven rocks on Pali Highway at about 5 p.m. yesterday, just outside the tunnels in the right Kailua-bound lane, Ishikawa said.
Clouds formed against the Windward side of the Koolau Mountains at Kualoa, Kaaawa and Punaluu from 8:30 a.m. until about 4 p.m. yesterday in a phenomenon called "terrain-anchored" rain, said Nezette Rydell, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service's Honolulu office.
"Lower-level winds were just so, anchoring these showers against the Koolaus," Rydell said.
The result was 6.5 inches for the 24 hours ending at 5 p.m. yesterday at the rain gauge in Punaluu and 1.6 inches at Kualoa, according to the weather service.
Down the coast in Kaneohe, rainfall for the same period was less than a half-inch, while at Kahuku on the North Shore, early morning showers dumped 2 to 3 inches.
School was canceled at Kahuku High and Intermediate School at 10 a.m. yesterday because heavy rain flooded the football field and other areas. The Kahuku Public & School Library, which is on the school's campus, was closed at 1 p.m.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
A woman walked through a downpour yesterday along Liholiho Street near Makiki Shopping Village.
A Department of Education spokesman said that Kahuku High and Intermediate and Kaawa Elementary will be closed today.
A Honolulu police officer at the Kahuku station said last night that he was not aware of any major damage to the school or other structures in Kahuku.
Several houses on the makai side of Kamehameha Highway at Kualoa had tense moments yesterday morning when a drain culvert that goes under the highway at the entrance to Kualoa Ranch became jammed with debris.
Charles Hulihe'e credited two neighbors for crawling into the ocean side of the blocked pipe and pulling out debris until the water broke through. The rushing water pushed the men into the ocean, but they were not hurt, he said.
Throughout yesterday, streaming waterfalls fell from multiple places on Puu Kanehoalani, the mountain at Kualoa Point.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Hulihe'e, who has lived there for 13 years.