Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Two homeless men, one clutching a St. Mark's Church sign, needed helped getting out of a Waialae culvert this morning when the water began to rise.

Rains cause
havoc, flood alerts

The forecast also includes high winds
before the state dries out by the weekend

By Helen Altonn

Heavy rains spread down the island chain this morning after drenching Oahu and Kauai through the night causing traffic problems for commuters and minor flooding.

A flash flood warning was issued this morning for West Maui, Molokai and Lanai and a flash flood watch was in effect for Oahu and the Big Island. A flash flood warning for East Oahu was canceled.

The weather service also extended a wind advisory, issued earlier for Kauai, to Oahu and Maui County.

Motorists were advised to be alert for flooding and not to attempt to cross fast-flowing or rising water or flooded roadways.

Rescue workers check out a flooded culvert this morning in Waialae. Two men on a ledge in the culversurvey the scene this morning where two men needed help getting out of a flooded culvert in Waialae. The men climbed out and were not injured.

Morning commuters had to battle both the rain and a major auto fire this morning on the H-1 Freeway near the Aiea Heights overpass.

The engine of car driving in the middle lane town-bound caught fire just after 7:30 a.m., backing up morning rush hour traffic.

Firefighters were called to Kapahiki Stream in Waialae when it was thought two people had fallen in and needed to be rescued by the rising waters.

However, the two men were found on a service ledge in the culvert near Star of the Sea School and were helped out by firefighters. Initially, one of the men refused help, but later accepted the services of the firefighters who placed a ladder down one side of the culvert.

A 32-year-old man was reported in critical condition at The Queens Medical Center today after a possible weather-related accident.

A woman and child trekked a lonely stretch of Ala Moana Beach Park last evening as the threat of poor weather cleared the popular playground of swimmers and sunbathers. More gray skies were forecast, with heavy showers and possible thunderstorms predicted for today and tomorrow on Oahu and Kauai. A flood watch was in effect for both islands. Rainfall on Kauai in the four-hour period ending at 8 p.m. yesterday totaled 1.53 inches in Hanalei and 1.43 inches in Hanapepe, said National Weather Service lead forecaster Bob Farrell.

He was hit by a car at 1:45 a.m. on Kuhio Avenue near Ulunui Avenue in Waikiki. The heavy rain and the fact the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing may have contributed to the accident, police said.

In East Molokai, several teachers were unable to get to Kilohana Elementary School this morning, after water went over Kamehameha V Highway near mile marker 7.5.

Kilohana Elementary principal Allen Ashitomi said about half the children did not attend school today.

Minor flooding was reported throughout Oahu, including the Redemption Academy School in Kailua.

Manoa Valley had one of the heaviest downpours, with 2.5 inches recorded in three hours early this morning at Lyon Arboretum. Manoa Stream was flooding mauka of Manoa Marketplace.

This Doppler radar picture from KITV this morning shows the storm moving down the islands after hitting Kauai and Oahu.

"So, everybody's soaked," said Hans Rosendal, National Weather Service lead forecaster.

It's the first time in years that Hawaii has had steady rains, and they should relieve water shortages, he said.

"By weekend it should be nice, lighter trades and more normal weather. It will be drying out," Rosendal said.

A low pressure center east of the islands brought the deluge, Rosendal said. "It's pretty much stationary right now but it will be moving west, away from us."

The islands will be on the wet side of the system with southerly winds but the rains will be mostly in the mountains, he said.

A strong high pressure system to the north pushed tradewinds into Kauai during the night, and a wind advisory was issued for the island with winds 30 mph to 40 mph in spots.

The tradewinds likely will spread to the other islands, Rosendal said. "By tonight and tomorrow, it should be pretty windy over the entire chain."

On Oahu, about 400 Hawaiian Electric Co. customers in the Ward Avenue area toward Kewalo Street lost power at 5:25 a.m. because of an underground cable problem, said spokesman Fred Kobashikawa.

Power was switched to alternate circuits and restored at 6:10 a.m.

"Other than that, we're doing good," he said.

Oahu areas with the heaviest rain in 24 hours up to 5 a.m. were Kahuku, 2.74 inches; Wilson Tunnel, 4.58 inches; Nuuanu Water Supply, 2.73 inches; Hakipuu Mauka, 2.18 inches; Luluku, 2.73 inches. Most other areas had more than one or two inches.

On Kauai, Wailua had 3.84 inches; Wainiha, 2.88 inches; Hanalei, 3.59 inches, Lihue, 2.31 inches, and Hanapepe, 2.59 inches.

Reporters Gregg Kakesako
and Gary T. Kubota contributed to this story.

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