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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kauai flash flood warning extended as heavy weather continues

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

This was just one of the scenes in the Hanalei area of Kauai, which received 15 inches of rain in 12 hours today.

Photo by Terry Lilley/Save Our Seas

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Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management urges residents and businesses to consider the following flood safety precautions:

• Know the meanings and effects of a Flood Advisory, Flash Flood Watch, Flash Flood Warning. Visit the National Weather Service on-line at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/ for more information and current weather advisory status. You may also call the National Weather Service at 973-4381 for recorded weather information, and monitor television and radio for the latest updates.

• Learn the safest route from your home or place of business to high ground should you have to evacuate in a hurry.

• If your area floods frequently, keep emergency materials on hand such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber, which can be used to protect properties.

• Stay away from areas along streams or near drainage canals/ditches. These areas can become deadly during periods of heavy rainfall.

• If your car stalls in a flooded area, abandon it as soon as possible. Floodwaters can rise rapidly and sweep a car (and its occupants) away. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles. DO NOT attempt to drive through flooded areas in your vehicle as parts of the road may already be washed out or the water may be much deeper than it appears. Turn around, don't drown!

• Consider canceling or postponing outdoor activities, especially hiking in mountains and valleys. A small stream can become a raging torrent within minutes if rainfall has been substantial. Don't cross until the flash flood subsides.

• Heavy rains cause runoff, which attracts more sharks. Avoid swimming immediately after a heavy storm, especially in murky waters.

• If you experience a flood related emergency call 9-1-1 immediately.

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An unstable weather system could keep the entire state under a flash flood watch throughout the day, and even overnight, according to the National Weather Service.
“Everywhere has the potential to be the trouble spot,” said forecaster Victor DeJesus. “It’s coming down pretty heavy on Kauaçi, Oçahu’s got more showers moving in from the south, and the Big Island is taking a beating.”

A flash flood warning for Kauai has been extended to 7:45 p.m.
Kauai County spokeswoman Mary Daubert reported that a number of roads were closed due to heavy debris and flooding.
She also said that the county’s emergency operations center had been activated and an emergency shelter opened at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center.
As of 11 a.m., the area near the Hanelei River had received nearly 10 inches of rain in the past six hours, preliminary figures from the weather service show.
A hard downpour with intermittment thunder and lightening began in
east-central Kauaçi's Wailua Homesteads about 11:30 a.m. and showed no sign
of letting up an hour later.
Power went out briefly in Wailua Homesteads.
Water poured off rooftops in sheets and flowed along some streets several
inches deep.
Earlier in the morning, before the rain started, the Wailua River was high
in its banks and low fields nearby had standing water. Water flowing over
Opaekaça Falls, a popular stop for tourists, was chocolatey brown.
Surf at Wailua Bay was brown and sloppy and at Kalapaki Bay in Lihuçe at
about 10 a.m., waves were regularly washing over the seawall on the west
side and splashing over rocks at the mouth of the bay on the east side.
Hawaiian cultural practitioners who held an overnight vigil at a heiau near
the mouth of the Wailua River through bouts of rain last night had the
cultural ceremony end in full rain.
On Oçahu, the areas of Punaluu, Kahuku and Läçie were getting rains that were heavy at times, and nuisance flooding was expected across Oçahu.
Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management will continue to monitor this situation throughout the weekend, said spokesman John Cummings.
A special marine warning was issued for the Big Island’s southeast and windward waters, with the weather service warning of intense thunderstorms packing strong winds and frequent lightning. Boaters were advised to seek safe harbor.
Meanwhile, as of 11 a.m. Pahoa had received 3.5 inches of rain in the previous six hours.
DeJesus blamed a lingering low-pressure system in the upper atmosphere for causing all the trouble.
“That cools the temperatures aloft, the atmosphere becomes unstable and you’ve got the possibility of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms today, and possibly even into tonight,” he said.
DeJesus said the entire state remains under a flash flood watch until 6 p.m., and he added that there’s a good chance the watch will be extended.
“This thing is becoming more disorganized, and it’s starting to fall apart,” he said, referring to the weather system. “It’s weakening. But it has been uncooperative and a little bit unpredictable. Based on some of the uncertainties that have unfolded, if this continues through the afternoon, we’ll have no reason not to extend the watch throughout the night.”