Strong gusts cause 'light to moderate' damage across Oahu
By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer
The National Weather Service anticipates it will cancel a high wind advisory this evening, but forecasters say it should remain breezy through the weekend and into next week.
Strong, gusty winds yesterday damaged roofs, knocked down trees and caused problems with electrical wires and transformers, but did not cause any major damage, said Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman. As of 8:30 p.m., the department had responded to 18 wind-related calls.
Most of the reports of "blown roofs" were shingles or roofing paper blowing off a garage or home roof, Seelig said. He characterized the damage as "light to moderate."
The windy weather forced rangers to close portions of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island as a precaution. The park closed Mauna Loa Road, Mauna Loa Trail, Red Hill Cabin, Mauna Loa Summit Cabin and the Namakanipaio Campground until further notice.
Also on the Big Island, the county closed the Waimea transfer station yesterday morning. The station is expected to reopen today if weather conditions improve.
A high-pressure system north of the state is causing the gusty trade winds. The NWS reported wind gusts of 71 mph at Kaupō Gap on Maui, 56 mph at Kahuku on O'ahu, 58 mph on Kaho'olawe, and 58 mph at Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.
The wind advisory will remain in effect until 6 p.m. today and the wind should begin to diminish a little this evening, said Matthew Foster, NWS forecaster. But Foster said residents may not notice a difference in wind strength.
"It's going to drop off a little (Thursday) night and be back up slightly through the weekend and probably drop off Tuesday," Foster said. "These aren't going to be big changes. Instead of 20-30 mph, it's going to be 15-25."
A wind advisory means winds are blowing at a sustained 30 mph, with gusts of up to 50 mph.
Foster said there isn't much rain in the forecast, except for some typical trade-wind showers.
The gusty winds and dry weather led the NWS to issue a "red flag warning" for the leeward areas of all islands through 6 p.m. today. A red flag warning means conditions are favorable for the spread of wild fires.
A high surf advisory also will be in effect for most east-facing shores until 6 p.m. today with surf forecast to be in the 6- to 8-foot range. Foster said much of the surf is being generated by the wind.
"It's going to be wind-driven," he said. "It's going to be really choppy. It's not going to be the nice, smooth swell-driven stuff."