East Hawaii News

Meteorologist Dissects Flossie’s Visit

August 1, 2013, 3:25 PM HST
* Updated August 2, 11:16 AM
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A preliminary analysis of Hawaii’s recent fling with Tropical Storm Flossie indicated that the heart of the system never actually made landfall in the state, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu said today.

However, Flossie came close to Kauai early Tuesday morning, said Mike Cantin, warning coordination meteorologist for the center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service.

Cantin said Flossie was the first storm to trigger tropical cyclone-related warnings in the state since a storm also named Flossie in 2007.

He noted that the strong northerly wind shear that robbed the 2013 version of its circulation took the steam out of the storm as it approached the Big Island.

As a result, Flossie’s deep convection or moisture moved southward while her low-pressure center tracked to the west-northwest.

While much of that moisture still went over the Big Island, not much of it turned into precipitation. That was especially the case on the island’s eastern side where the wettest spot was Pahoa, which received less than a fifth of an inch of rain.

That was a secondary effect of the shearing, Cantin told Big Island Now.

“Once the top of the storm gets blown off, it weakens very rapidly,” he said. “A storm has to be stacked up for strength.”

As it moved further west, the southeastern portion of Flossie regained some strength over the northern portions of the Big Island and Maui where it generated heavy rainfall, gusty winds and intense thunderstorms.

Cantin said the rainiest spot on the Big Island received 2.86 inches, while up to 5.27 inches was recorded on Maui. Peak rainfall was 2.71 inches on Oahu and 3.31 inches on Kauai.

The strongest sustained winds on the Big Island occurred in Kona where they were clocked at 31 mph. For Maui County it was 33 mph in Kahului, on Oahu it was 27 mph in the Waianae Mountains, and on Kauai it was 26 mph in Kekaha.

The most damage resulted from the winds, which downed trees and power lines that left about 12,500 Big Islanders without power, and lightning, which also caused power outages and damaged at least one home on Maui.

Flossie also generated surf heights ranging from six to 15 feet, Cantin said, with only minor coastal inundation reported.

He said total damage estimates were not yet available.

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