Hawaii declares a state of emergency amid dangerous storms

High winds and deluges could continue until Wednesday on the island state

Louise Boyle
Senior Climate Correspondent, New York
Tuesday 07 December 2021 15:22
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Water flowing from an electrical outlet because of the floods in Hawaii, USA

Hawaii has declared a state of emergency after a dangerous storm barreled across the island state, bringing risks of flash flooding, mudslides and downed trees.

Governor David Ige issued the declaration for all of the state’s islands on Monday night as meteorologists warned that high winds and deluges could continue until Wednesday. Gusts of up to 50mph were expected overnight.

Four emergency shelters were kept open on Monday for residents as parts of the island Oahu continued to see heavy rainfall, public officials reported. Numerous road closures and property damage were also possible.

Flash flood warnings remained in place for Honolulu along with Pearl City, Kailua, and Waipahu, National Weather Service Honolulu said.

A car turns onto a flooded street on Monday, December 6 in Honolulu

The Honolulu Fire Department reported that five boys, all aged nine and 10, were rescued from a fast-flowing creek during the stormy conditions.

Hours later, five people were rescued in a separate operation involving two dozen fire fighters after they were caught in rushing waters near the Pali Highway in Honolulu, the Star Advertiser reported.

Hawaii had been under a blizzard warning this past weekend with around a foot of snow forecast. Photos showed the peaks of the Big Island’s dormant volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, capped with snow.

The National Weather Service reported on Monday that double-digit rainfall fell across Hawaii in a 24-hour period.

There was also the possibility of 10 or more inches of rain in some areas from the subtropical cyclone, known as a “Kona Low” in Hawaii – a slow-moving system known to dump a tremendous amount of water.

The 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor is set to be marked in Hawaii on Tuesday morning.

A Navy spokesperson told The Associated Press in an email on Monday that there was no discussion of canceling the event because of the storms.

In early March, half a dozen homes were severely damaged during storms on the island of Maui with more than 13 inches of rain falling in under 12 hours. The heavy rains also prompted evacuations from the small community of Haiku after officials feared that a 136-year-old dam would be breached by flood waters.

“This is really an example of climate change in the present day,” Suzanne Case, the head of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, said at the time.

“We have a flood emergency because of the heavy rain bomb. And we’re seeing these more and more across the island chain – more frequent and more extreme events.”

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