Rain decreasing but risk of flooding remains
Unstable weather will persist, with showers likely into next week
Any downpours could cause quick flooding in saturated areas
The heavy rains that have inundated Windward Oahu and Kauai are expected to diminish after today, but the waterlogged areas are still not in the clear, forecasters say.
The National Weather Service is predicting less chance of heavy rain this weekend, but forecasters offer no promises there will not be more.
"It's going to remain somewhat unsettled," lead forecaster Bob Farrell said last night. "Windward areas will continue to get showers, but probably not of the intensity they've been."
"I think flood risk should be decreasing tomorrow, especially on Oahu," Farrell said. "Other than urban small-stream flood advisories, I don't think we will have any warnings."
A spectator stand seemed to float on a flooded soccer field in Hilo yesterday. A low-pressure system northwest of Hawaii colliding with a high-pressure system east of the islands dumped heavy rains on Hilo and Kauai.
Last night, Kauai and Oahu were under a flash-flood watch that was to last until 4 a.m. today.
"A trough west of Kauai continues to focus converging bands of showers toward the islands of Niihau, Kauai and Oahu, where a very moist and unstable atmosphere persists," the weather service said.
But the service said the chance of rain decreases to about 30 percent throughout next week. Still, any downpours could spell trouble for already saturated areas, forecasters say.
Here is a look at rainfall totals reported by the weather service for Windward areas through 8 a.m. yesterday, plus Honolulu Airport for a Leeward comparison:
» Kahuku town had March rainfall of 11 inches. Add the 8.4 inches it received in January and February, and the year-to-date total is 19.4 inches.
» Punaluu had March rainfall of 24 inches, for a year-to-date total of 38.6 inches.
» Kualoa had March rainfall of 11.3 inches, for a year-to-date total of 24.7 inches.
» Ahuimanu had March rainfall of 11.1 inches, for a year-to-date total of 38 inches.
» The Honolulu Airport had March rainfall of 2.1 inches, for a year-to-date total of 6.3 inches.
Three friends rode bodyboards yesterday in a rain-filled culvert off Pauahi Street in Hilo.
"One and a half to two times normal -- that's significant," Farrell said of the Windward year-to-date totals.
"Of course, by the end of the year, it may well average out. But because most of our rainfall on Oahu comes in the winter, if you're running well above normal in the winter, you'll probably be above normal for the year," he said.
Though a lot of rain fell, much of it did not get to Oahu's underground aquifers, Farrell added.
"When it comes down this heavily, a lot of it runs off. That's why you get flooding."
Center opens with info about disaster relief
People with home or property damage from recent heavy rains on Oahu are urged to come to the Disaster Assistance Recovery Center today or tomorrow.
Officials say residents should come to make certain that all damage is accurately listed on disaster summaries and to see if one of the government offices represented at the center can help them.
The center will be open at Kualoa Ranch between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. both days and could be extended to Monday if there is a need, said Vic Gustafson, state Civil Defense plans and operations officer. Offices represented will include:
» The Honolulu Department of Community Services, with information about disaster recovery loans of up to $125,000.
» The city Department of Planning and Permitting, which can waive permit fees for flood damage repairs.
» Honolulu and state property tax experts, to help eligible homeowners apply for partial refunds on damaged property.
» State and Honolulu Civil Defense officials and city road, sewer and refuse officials, to deal with assorted issues and problems. Any areas that need improved drainage to avoid future flooding can also be discussed.
» The American Red Cross, with cleaning supplies and donated comforters.
» The State Department of Health will have information about health and sanitation, disease prevention and mental health counseling.
» The State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, with commercial loan information.
» The State Department of Land and Natural Resources, with flood insurance information.
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Rain again floods saturated Kauai
LIHUE » More than a foot of rain fell on parts of Kauai from Thursday night into yesterday morning, causing widespread flooding, minor mudslides and at least one injury.
At 6 p.m. Thursday an unidentified man was driving his pickup truck along Kou Road in Hanapepe Valley when a rockslide hit his truck, county officials said yesterday.
The man had to be extricated from his vehicle by firefighters and was taken to Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital. The extent of his injuries was unknown.
Hanalei School was closed yesterday after the heavy rain shut down Hanalei Bridge from 7 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., when one lane was reopened. Kuhio Highway in Hanalei, prone to heavy flooding, was reopened in both directions by 4 p.m. yesterday, police said.
Elsewhere on the Garden Isle, Civil Defense officials kept a close eye on roadways from the North Shore to the Leeward side, closing several roads because of flooding and landslides Thursday night and early yesterday morning. All roads were reopened by yesterday afternoon as the rain stopped and the weather started to clear.
But National Weather Service meteorologists are predicting more showers for the weekend, with the possibility of rain extending into next week. They extended a flash-flood watch for Kauai, Niihau and Oahu until early this morning.
TOM FINNEGAN / TFINNEGAN@STARBULLETIN.COM
The swollen Kealia River has dumped silt, large chunks of earth and debris into the sea, thanks to yesterday's heavy rains.
Kauai's North Shore and west side rain gauges received more than 5 inches of rain in a 24-hour period ending at 2 p.m. yesterday. Gauges on both the Windward and Leeward sides picked up between 2 and 4 inches of rain. Mount Waialeale received more than 12.5 inches of rain over the same period.
County and state agencies were still reeling from the heavy rain from two weeks ago, when almost twice as much rain fell during a two-day period.
Camping at Kauai's state parks has been a washout for more than two weeks as the dirt road to Polihale State Park and the 11-mile hiking trail that encompasses the Na Pali Coast state park remain muddy and dangerous.
Wayne Souza, district superintendent for the Division of State Parks on Kauai, said that while the parks are not technically closed, the state is hoping that campers who received permits in advance are staying away from the muddy Kalalau Trail.
"Given the weather conditions, we're hoping the campers already came out. If not, they should just stay put and wait it out," said Souza. "That's the advice we give them in our Kalalau Trail brochure."
At the county's Lydgate Park, debris-filled snorkeling pools remain closed.
Kauai Civil Defense officials were in contact with meteorologists throughout the period, monitoring both radar and reports from the public. The weather service issued a flash-flood warning for most of yesterday morning, keeping Civil Defense in emergency mode.
"Whenever we have a flash-flood warning, a (video teleconference) is held so emergency personnel have the opportunity to get the latest information on weather conditions and ask pertinent questions," said Mark Marshall, Kauai Civil Defense administrator.
Marshall encouraged everyone to report flooding and other weather-related conditions to Kauai police at 241-1711 or Civil Defense officials at 241-1800.