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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Wind-struck hazards slow O'ahu traffic

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Gusty wind of up to 45 mph snapped a tree and damaged two utility poles yesterday, forcing the closure of three main O'ahu roadways.

Arlene and Shawn Johnson of Oxnard, Calif., shield themselves from the strong wind that blew across Ala Moana Beach Park yesterday. The National Weather Service reported wind of 25 to 35 mph throughout the state yesterday, with gusts to 45 mph. Strong wind of 10 to 25 mph is forecast for today.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

The first incident was reported at 4:40 p.m. when a Hawaiian Electric Co. pole on Kina'u Street began to lean across the road. Although the pole did not break, police closed the Kina'u off-ramp from the H-1 Freeway as a precaution.

The closure resulted in a major backlog of cars in the middle of the afternoon rush hour. A HECO crew braced the pole and police were able to reopen the off-ramp shortly before 7:30.

At about 6:35 p.m., a pole on Young Street snapped and police closed a stretch of the street between Kalakaua Avenue and Ke'eaumoku Street. The pole was removed, and the roadway was reopened shortly before 9:30 p.m.

At 6:43 p.m., a large tree fell in the Kailua-bound lanes of the Pali Highway, a half-mile north of Waokanaka Street. Two Kailua-bound lanes were closed for nearly two hours while crews removed the tree.

Despite the strong wind, there were no reports of serious property damage or power failures.

The National Weather Service yesterday issued a high-wind advisory for O'ahu, Kaua'i, Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i and West Hawai'i. The advisory meant wind in excess of 30 mph, with gusts to 45 mph, was howling in the affected areas.

The advisory was in effect until 4 this morning, but was expected to be extended through this afternoon. The wind was forecast to decline this evening, to the 10-25 mph range.