A seasonal cyclone is drenching parts of Hawaii with more than a foot of rain, prompting safety officials to warn of dire levels of flooding, potential landslides and power outages beginning Monday and lasting into the middle of the week.
The storm is called a Kona low, a slow-moving weather pattern that can sit over parts of the islands that don’t typically get heavy rainfall. The seasonal cyclone is expected to drop inches of rain in short periods of time, potentially bringing “catastrophic flooding,” the National Weather Service warned.
By Monday afternoon, parts of the Big Island saw almost 9 inches of rain, and areas of Maui saw more than a foot in a 24-hour period. The National Weather Service added that by Tuesday, some isolated regions could get up to 25 inches of rain before the storm passes by.
Consequences of the storm may include “dangerous driving conditions due to near zero visibility. Many roads could become impassable due to severe runoff and flooding,” the agency wrote. “Numerous land slides are also expected in areas with steep terrain. Debris in streams and gulches may clog bridges and culverts resulting in dangerous flooding. Urban areas, especially on Oahu, could have severe flooding.”
Honolulu’s mayor, Rick Blangiardi, warned residents to heed safety warnings on Monday, saying this was a “very serious storm.” Flash flood warnings were issued in Oahu, and emergency officials were urging some residents to seek higher ground.
“We just ask everybody to use caution to use common sense,” Blangiardi said at a news briefing. “Let’s not let the storm get the best of us.”
The storm has already affected flights. The Kahului Airport in Maui lost power on Sunday, forcing passengers to deplane in the storm until backup generators could go online.
At higher elevations, the storm prompted a blizzard warning Sunday on the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, where officials said more than a foot of snow could fall. Such blizzard warnings happen often.