Updated 

Winter weather sweeps across island


After two weeks of dry weather, heavy rainfalls pelted Hilo and surrounding areas while winter made an impressive appearance on the summit of Mauna Kea.

The Hilo International Airport reported a record rainfall of 3.05 inches for Tuesday. That topped the previous record of 1.39 inches Jan. 28, 1988.

Not only did rainfall at the Hilo airport break a record Tuesday, but a new record was set for lowest high temperature, according to the National Weather Service. In Hilo, the high temperature was 70 degrees, which broke the former lowest high of 72 degrees set in 1979.

Residents across the island were feeling the chill as some areas recorded temperatures in the mid- to low 50s.

Heavy rains beginning Monday and lasting until Tuesday also affected other areas of East Hawaii. According to information by the NWS, Big Island Dairy saw the most rain during a 24-hour period starting at 8:45 a.m. Monday with a total of 8.02 inches. Honokaa also saw heavy rains with 6.37 inches, followed by Laupahoehoe with 6.01 inches.

While some areas of East Hawaii experienced heavy rains, others did not. Pahoa received 1.94 inches during the 24-hour period and Waimea experienced 0.85 inches.

The heavy rains may have contributed to power outages on the east side of the island.

Kristen Okinaka, senior communications consultant for Hawaii Electric Light Co., said power was out for 23 customers in Black Sands subdivision, Leilani Estates, Napo‘opo‘o, and the Onomea scenic route. Over the past few days, Okinaka said downed trees from gusty winds caused outages in Paauilo, Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, and South Point to Naalehu.

The outages affected about 3,000 customers for a few minutes to a few hours.

Despite the heavy rain, Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator, said there were no road closings or reports of heavy flooding.

However, the road to Mauna Kea was closed Wednesday following winter storm conditions.

As of noon Wednesday, the summit of Mauna Kea and access road were closed and crews were “not having success in clearing the road,” according to a phone message by the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station. The road was expected to remain closed until further notice.

Matt Foster, meteorologist for NWS, said snowfall totals were not available as of Wednesday afternoon, but “it looked like a significant amount, possibly around six inches.”

Foster also said the snow level went down to about “10,500 feet in elevation.”

Although the rain backed off somewhat as of Wednesday afternoon, inclement weather conditions are expected to continue into the weekend.

Marlon Verasamy, a meteorological technician in Hilo, said residents should expect more showers Friday afternoon and that weather pattern is expected to continue into the weekend.

The NWS issued a flash flood watch until noon today.

Forecasters said deep moisture and an upper-level low over the southeast portion of the state will continue to bring the threat of flooding rains to the island.

A flash flood watch means conditions could develop that lead to flash flooding, according to the NWS, which also noted it does not have to be raining heavily for flash flooding to occur. Heavy rain on nearby slopes can produce flooding in area streams, canyons and other low-lying areas.

To report a power outage or downed power lines, call 969-6666.

Email Megan Moseley at mmoseley@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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