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High Wind Possible Across Much of Big Island

February 9, 2020, 9:55 AM HST
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In Waimea Friday morning, Feb. 7, 2020, Tina Yohon captures snow on Maunakea.

As of 9 a.m. Sunday, there were no high wind watches, advisories or warnings for Hawai‘i Island as a whole. But the National Weather Service says that could change quickly.

NWS is monitoring a surface low northeast of Hawai‘i that has the potential to quickly develop into a high wind event for the Big Island. Advisory level winds from the west are possible in Kohala, Hāmākua, the Saddle, South Hilo and Puna, according to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense.

The impacts are expected late Sunday evening through Monday morning, Civil Defense said. A wind advisory means sustained winds of at least 30 mph or gusts of at least 50 mph are expected.

At 3:25 a.m. Sunday, NWS issued a high wind warning for Big Island summits that will persist until 6 a.m. Tuesday. It forecast northwest winds 20 to 40 mph Sunday, with localized gusts over 70 mph at elevations of 8,000 feet and higher.

Winds are expected to increase on the mountain tops Sunday night, peaking at 35 to 75 mph with localized gusts over 120 mph Sunday evening into early Monday. Winds are expected to weaken Monday afternoon and Monday night.

Due to the potential impacts of high wind, Civil Defense is asking the public to tie down loose objects or move them indoors before sundown.

Come Monday morning, roadways may be blocked by downed trees and other debris, while utility lines may be damaged leading to outages

Travel to the summits is not recommended until winds have subsided.

NWS also noted that coastal flooding is possible Sunday evening into Monday. Coastal flooding is possible Sunday night through Monday along exposed north and west facing shores due to a combination of strong winds and warning-level surf.

The greatest potential for coastal flooding impacts will be during the peak daily high tide, which will occur during the early morning hours between midnight and daybreak. Coastal impacts may include significant beach erosion, flooding of beaches that normally remain dry and overwash onto vulnerable low-lying coastal roads and other coastal infrastructure.

A gale watch also remains in effect through Monday afternoon for Big Island leeward waters.

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Gale watches are issued when the risk of gale force winds of 34 to 47 knots has significantly increased but the specific timing and/or location is still uncertain. Northwest winds of up to 35 knots are possible, with seas potentially building 10 to 15 feet Sunday night and Monday.

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Small Craft should consider remaining in port until conditions improve.

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