Rainmaker coming through

LIHUE — Tuesday’s doozy of a thunderstorm was perfectly timed with repairs on Kauai’s National Weather Service radar station, but NWS says they’ve got Kauai covered anyway.

NWS staff members said Tuesday that they’ve got weather tracking under control with the use of rain gauges, stream gauges, human spotters with Civil Defense, and with partial images that can be captured from the weather radar on Molokai.

“Radar is one of our important tools to monitor the weather, we’ll miss that, but we’ve got other ways to monitor,” said Derek Wroe, forecaster for NWS.

The Kauai radar’s protective covering — the radome — has experience some general wear and tear and is being repaired, NWS staff members explained.

The work should be completed by March 9.

Satellite data is also available to NWS for weather monitoring and Wroe said NWS Hawaii contacted the Washington, D.C., satellite branch and has requested a special satellite sector over Kauai.

“That’ll increase the amount of pictures taken per hour over us, so we have a lot more looks going on right now,” he said.

As NWS has been repairing their Kauai radar system, this week’s storm has been moving in.

Over the course of a 1- hour period, from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Mount Waialeale received 8.58 inches, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. During that same time period, Lihue Airport received .09 of an inch, Princeville Airport received 2.69 inches, Hanalei received 1.23 inches and Kilohana Crater received 1.06 inches.

In general, the lowlands received between an inch and an inch and a half on Monday night, Wroe said.

Monday, Hanalei Elementary School was closed due to the inclement weather conditions and unpredictable river levels, but on Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Bill Arakaki said the school would be open today, pending weather conditions and river height levels.

Once the storm clears on Thursday, NWS experts say the rain is going to keep coming.

“It’s a nice batch of heavy showers going on now,” Wroe said. “It’s a relatively slow moving system, so that puts us in a prolonged time of flooding threat.”

A flash flood watch has been issued for Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Niihau, Oahu and the Big Island. That watch continues through Wednesday afternoon, as of now.

“The system that’s creating this weather is a deep trough that’s several hundred miles to the west right now,” Wroe said on Tuesday afternoon.

The system will pass overhead today and is expected to move northeast of the islands on Thursday.

But, that’s not the end of the wet weather for Kauai.

“You’ll get a couple of days break before showers move in again,” Wroe said. “A weaker front will move down sometime on Saturday and into Sunday, but it’s not looking like the rainmaker that’s moving in right now.”

Flickering lights on Tuesday hailed the possibility of power outages and Wroe said there’s a possibility of that with this storm system.

“Anytime you have thunderstorms in the forecast, a lightning strike is possible and that could cause power outages,” he said. “As we move into the weekend, of all the islands, Kauai and Oahu seem to have the best chance to get more rainfall.”


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