Flossie Now a Depression, But Still Packing a Rainy Punch
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by Dave Smith
Tropical Storm Flossie today turned out to be more fizzle than fury, at least for the windward side of the Big Island.
Late last week, Flossie was bearing down on Hawaii with sustained winds of 60 mph and predictions of double-digit rainfall.
But as she approached land, Flossie began to fall apart.
“The system was sheared very strongly by winds out of the north,” said Mike Cantin, a meteorologist with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
The shear effect, which breaks up the storm’s circulation by blowing away its top, began late Sunday and continued through the night, Cantin said in an interview late this morning with Big Island Now’s Josh Pacheco.
In Flossie’s case, the shear effect also caused a split in the storm, with the core weakening and veering off to the northeast, bypassing the Big Island.
Flossie had weakened so much that late this afternoon the National Weather Service reclassified her as a tropical depression.
But despite the downgrade, Flossie is again demanding some respect.
At about 4 p.m., Robert Ballard of the National Weather Service tweeted that thunderstorms were “exploding” to the east and southeast of Flossie’s center just as it passed the northern tip of the Big Island and was approaching Maui.
Those storms to the southeast were hammering North and South Kohala, while those to the east were beginning to be felt on Maui.
The stormy conditions prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash-flood advisory first for the Big Island and later for Maui.
The areas in West Hawaii receiving heavy rainfall included arid Kohala Ranch, where 0.86 inches fell between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. In that area that is equivalent to nearly a month’s worth of rain.
But aside from some gusty breezes and strong surf, the storm was barely felt on the Big Island’s eastern side — which had been expected to bear the brunt of Flossie’s force.
The wettest rain gauge there was in Pahoa where 0.19 of an inch of rain fell in the nine-hour period ending at 5 p.m., with all of that falling between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Hilo received just 0.06 inches today.
Meanwhile, the improving conditions prompted the county to reopen various county facilities on Tuesday including county parks and beach parks, transfer station and the Hilo and Puuanahulu landfills.
The county Hele-On bus system will resume its Hilo to South Kohala resort service beginning at 7:30 tonight and will return to a full schedule on Tuesday.