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BLOG: Skies Clearing (Apparently) in Time for New Year Festivities

Posted December 31, 2013, 02:12 PM HST Updated December 31, 2013, 02:33 PM HST
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This weather satellite photo of the Central Pacific taken at noon today shows the storm-producing, low-pressure trough continuing to move to the east, leaving only partly cloudy conditions on the Big Isle. NOAA image.

As predicted by forecasters, the unstable and soggy atmosphere that drenched much of the Big Island over the past several days has given way to partly cloudy skies and drier weather — but not before one last wet and electrified farewell.

On Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service expected the stormy weather conditions to move off to the east by that evening.

However, a flash-flood warning set to expire at 8:15 p.m. was extended to 11 p.m., then to 2 a.m., and then one last time to 8 this morning.

And for good reason. Thunderstorms lashed much of the windward side overnight, taxing some rain gauges and overwhelming others.

At about 5 p.m., what was described as a “micro-tornado” blew two-thirds of the roof off a home on Hoopuni Street, carrying it – with trusses still attached – some 250 feet away. While aloft, the roofing struck a power pole, knocking off its lines.

The  family of four living in the home was provided assistance by the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, meteorologist Robert Ballard was keeping tabs on the Big Island weather situation on Twitter.

“Cell above Hilo NOT giving up!” he said at 6:27 p.m. “This could be a real problem.”

Two hours later, referring to one of Hilo’s main mauka-makai streets, he declared, “It’s no longer Waianue Ave….it’s Waianuenue River.”

Nearly 8 inches of rain fell in Waiakea Uka in upper Hilo between 8 p.m. Monday and 8 this morning, giving the area a 24-hour total of 14.40 inches.

It was a similar situation at the Island Dairy gauge in Ookala, which saw 14.61 inches in the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m.

It’s not known how much fell at Pahoa as the rain gauge there malfunctioned, but it’s safe to say it was plenty as the area experienced deluges for much of the night.

Data is also missing from Honaunau and Kealakekua in Kona, where weather service radar was showing rainfall rates exceeding 2 inches per hour late Monday afternoon.

Semi-sunny skies today gave waterlogged residents a chance to sooth thunderstruck nerves and dry out umbrellas as they prepare for tonight’s New Year’s Eve festivities.

The forecast calls for cloudy conditions and scattered showers in the afternoon and evening over windward sections, with more clearing on the leeward side.

Pretty much the same is in store for New Year’s Day.

However, there is one caveat, a remnant of the recent instability.

The weather service is keeping a flash-flood watch in effect for the Big Island until 6 o’clock tonight as “the potential for locally heavy showers and thunderstorms will persist on the Big Island for the rest of today.”

Let’s just hope that’s forecasters’ way of saying be sure to keep your firecracker fuses dry.

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