By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
For readers dreaming of a wet Christmas, do we have a holiday for you.
The downpours that have soaked East Hawaii over the past few days are forecast to continue through Christmas, with tradewind weather and associated showers returning to the windward Big Island through New Year’s, according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
“The windward side and southeastern slopes will be getting some showers for the next couple of days or so,” NWS Forecaster Anthony Reynes said on Monday. “Winds are gonna start coming back from the east, so windward and mauka areas will be getting rain in the afternoons and evenings.
“If you’re driving on the windward side, pretty much guaranteed you’re going to run into a couple of showers.”
Reynes said the light and variable winds that windward areas have experienced over the past few days have contributed to the umbrella weather.
“You’ve got the daytime heating, and on the windward side the influx of moisture is pretty much going to come with that daytime heating. That’s what we call the sea breeze cycle,” he said.
In the 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m. on Christmas Eve, Kealakomo in lower Puna was the rainiest spot in East Hawaii, having received almost an inch of rainfall, while the Pahoa rain gauge measured almost six-tenths of an inch.
“This is the active period of the wet season in Hawaii,” Reynes said. “Late December and January, this is the time of the year that we’re gonna see more active rainy weather.”
Between a quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain was forecast to fall on East Hawaii for the 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m. this morning. The wet weather made things a little more difficult for those trying to enforce traffic laws and keep traffic moving on Christmas Eve.
“The weather does contribute to traffic accidents and we do get increased calls for service, as far as traffic accidents are concerned, because of bad weather,” said Acting Puna Police Captain Reed Mahuna.
His officers and state Highway Division personnel had to deal with both the weather and a downed tree near Glenwood that snarled traffic for about four hours on Volcano Highway (Highway 11) early Monday morning. The fallen tree was in the vicinity of Lehuanani Street near the 19-mile marker on the highway.
Police issued a traffic advisory at about 5:30 a.m. stating that the highway’s lanes in both direction were blocked. Another advisory shortly before 10 a.m. alerted motorists that traffic was again moving in both directions.
Traffic was backed up, especially in the Hilo-bound direction, with people trying to get to work and holiday shopping procrastinators out early hoping to find the best last-minute bargains.
“The holiday season is one of our busiest times. A lot of people are out shopping, on the road, visiting family and friends.” Mahuna said.
The wet weather in East Hawaii hasn’t translated to snow on Mauna Kea as it often does this time of year. As of Monday afternoon, the summit road was open and conditions were clear atop the 13,796-foot mountain.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.