Storm pounds Kauai

HANALEI — Heavy rainfall led to flooding that closed Kuhio Highway at the Hanalei Bridge about 4 p.m. Monday, about two hours after a National Weather Service flash flood warning was issued for Kauai and Niihau.

The warning was in place through at least 8 p.m. Monday, though rainfall diminished by about 5 p.m., according to NWS.

Runoff and stream levels remained high over areas of north and east Kauai, the NWS said, such as South Fork of the Wailua River, which rose six feet in the course of one hour Monday afternoon. In that hour, Hanalei River’s levels went from around 2 feet to about 10 feet.

NWS forecasters say the storms could continue throughout the week and people should be prepared for more flooding.

The showers are a sign of movement out of a drought cycle, said Kevin Kodama, NWS hydrologist.

The typical weather patterns bring moist tropical air masses over Kauai this time of year, he said, and it’s something to be expected during the summer months.

Power outages and a downed tree over Kuhio Highway at Lumahai were also results of Monday’s storm. Both the state Department of Transportation and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative worked to open roads and restore power.

Grove Farm closed the access road to Mahaulepu until further notice due to hazardous conditions.

The storm began hammering Kauai on Sunday night, causing a Hanalei Bridge closure from about 1 a.m. Monday. The northbound lane was reopened at 3:41 a.m. Both lanes reopened and traffic flow returned to normal at 5 a.m. Monday.

The flash flood warning continued through 5 p.m. Monday and by the time Kuhio Highway closed at the Hanalei Bridge, American Red Cross had opened a shelter at Hanalei School.

The bridge was still closed when TGI went to press Monday night.

Sunday night, the storm dropped 1 to 3 inches in the interior of the island. Princeville Airport received 1.72 inches, Wainiha caught .37 inches and the Hanalei gauge reported .31 inches. Mount Waialeale got 3.32 inches, Lihue Stadium recorded .61 of an inch and Hanapepe recorded .16 of an inch. Between the hours of about 2 and 5 p.m. Monday, gauges recorded 3.93 inches in Wainiha, 1.94 inches at the Princeville Airport, 1.4 inches in Kapahi, 2.54 inches in Lihue at the stadium, .58 inches in Hanapepe, and .73 inches in Omao.

Today and Wednesday carry the potential to have the worst of the storm as the air mass moves over Kauai. Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting mostly cloudy conditions today with a chance of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms through the evening.

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