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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Windy weather isn't going away

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Gusty winds didn't help fire crews that spent yesterday battling a brushfire in Waiawa. The blaze burned 30 acres by midafternoon.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The National Weather Service is expected to cancel a high wind advisory this morning, but forecasters say residents can continue to expect windy conditions throughout the week.

An advisory means that sustained winds of at least 30 mph or gusts of 50 mph or more are expected. Yesterday, gusts of 54 mph were recorded in Mākua Valley on O'ahu, 53 mph on Lāna'i and 50 mph at Kohala Ranch on the Big Island.

There were no reports of major damage caused by the wind.

Chris Brenchley, NWS forecaster, said the strong trade winds are being generated by a high-pressure system north of the Islands. He said the advisory likely will lapse at 6 a.m. today, but said, "It looks like it will be fairly windy through much of the week."

The NWS also is expected to downgrade a high surf warning to an advisory today as surf along north- and west-facing shores are forecast to decline. Surf of 20 to 30 feet were expected last night along these shores, but the NWS said the waves should drop below the 25-foot warning level today.

Yesterday's gusty winds, coupled with low relative humidity, led the NWS to issue a "red flag warning" for much of the state. A red flag warning means conditions are favorable for the spread of wild fires, Brenchley said.

"The rain wasn't enough to really get anything wet and these winds are really dry," Brenchley said. "When you have a combination of low relative humidity, strong winds and dry fuels, those all have to come together and from a weather side can be critical to fire weather issues."

The strong winds didn't help firefighters who battled a brush fire in Waiawa most of yesterday.

The fire was reported at 2:20 a.m. in former sugar cane fields and fire crews battled the blaze for about five hours. But shortly before 9:30 a.m., the fire flared up and began to slowly creep up the side of a steep and inaccessible ravine, said Capt. Terry Seelig, Honolulu Fire Department spokesman.

By mid-afternoon, the fire had scorched about 30 acres but was not threatening any property. The fire was reported contained as of 6:20 p.m., Seelig said. About 30 firefighters and two helicopters battled the blaze.

Seelig said firefighters had to deal with the gusty winds most of the day.

"The wind was strong out in that area," Seelig said. "It did push the fire more than it would have if the wind wasn't there. But we were fortunate because most of the flanks that were difficult to get at were on leeward sides of the ravine, meaning they weren't getting the full brunt of the wind so that made it little more favorable."

The cause of the fire was not determined.