East Hawaii News

Hilo, Pahoa Hit With Nearly a Foot of Rain

February 25, 2013, 1:48 PM HST
* Updated February 26, 2:55 PM
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***Updated at 11 a.m. Tuesday.***

The Big Island is continuing to dry out from a storm that dumped nearly a foot of rain in some windward sections late last week.

The National Weather Service today said the drying trend is continuing as an upper-level disturbance pushes further to the east. That trough is following the movement of a large mass of water vapor in the central Pacific that fed the downpours.

Meanwhile, a high-pressure ridge forming over the state is bringing in more stable weather from the west, forecasters said.

There are some pockets of moisture that will create showers over windward areas through tonight, they said, but nothing like those observed over the past several days.

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The Mauna Kea Weather Center, which is operated by the observatories atop the mountain, reported that the road to the summit had reopened by late Sunday morning.

This satellite image taken at 9 a.m. today shows the mass of water vapor has moved far to the east of the Big Island. NOAA image.

This satellite image taken at 9 a.m. today shows the mass of water vapor has moved far to the east of the Big Island. NOAA image.

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The deluges that began Thursday afternoon and for the most part had stopped by Sunday morning – at which point the flash flood watch was cancelled – left rain gauges brimming in some of the usual wetter areas.

That included Hilo’s airport, where 11.42 inches fell in the 72-hour period ending at 8 a.m. Sunday. Waiakea Uka in upper Hilo saw 11.33 inches during that time during which Mountain View received 10.58 inches.

Pahoa, with 11.76 inches, turned out to be the wettest spot in the state over that period.

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Almost all of West Hawaii escaped the deluge. The highest rainfall readings there occurred at Kaupulehu in North Kona which received about a quarter-inch of rain on Saturday.

Darryl Oliveira, head of the Big Island’s Civil Defense Agency, said the storm caused no major damage.

He said there were the usual ponding issues on roadways in East Hawaii but no lengthy road closures. There was a landslide near the 26-mile marker on the Akoni Pule Highway and several small rockfalls in the Kaawalii Gulch in Highway 19 on the Hamakua Coast.

There were also a variety of requests from the public for sandbags – or for where they could be purchased, Oliveira said. Areas where sandbags were used Friday included Hilo Union Elementary School and at Malama Waldorf  School in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Carl Okuyama, a Hilo grocer, encountered a flash flood near the 40-mile marker on Saddle Road at about 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Okuyama said it was not raining at the time.

There are a few rain gauges monitored by the weather service in that area but the agency’s hydrologist in Honolulu, Kevin Kodama, said none showed any significant rainfall Sunday.

He said it was possible that the heavy shower may have been blocked from the Kohala weather radar installation by Mauna Kea, or that the flood was a local event exacerbated by a clogged culvert.

Okuyama said he also saw flood debris on other areas of Saddle Road during his drive Sunday.

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