Heavy rains close Hanalei Bridge, produce flash floods warnings

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The threat of heavy weather hangs over a pair enjoying the shoreline at the Morgan’s Ponds keiki pool at Lydgate Park in Wailua Tuesday afternoon.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    High surf and brown water can be seen at the Ammonia’s break at Kalapaki Bay Tuesday afternoon.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The backwash collides with an incoming, wind-enhanced break at the Ammonia’s break at Kalapaki Bay Tuesday afternoon. A high-surf advisory and a brown-water advisory were issued for Kaua‘i due to the wind-enhanced surf on the east-facing shores and the waters made brown from runoffs.

LIHU‘E — Heavy rains triggered a flash-flood warning for Kaua‘i on Tuesday night and the closure of Kuhio Highway in the vicinity of the Hanalei Bridge at about 5 p.m.

The road closed about half an hour after the National Weather Service upgraded the flash-flood watch for Kaua‘i into a warning at about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The warning was issued effective through 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

A shelter was opened at Hale Halawai in Hanalei at about 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

A flash-flood watch was issued for Kaua‘i through Tuesday afternoon, with forecasts pointing to “continued potential heavy rainfall” overnight, according to NWS Meteorologist Will Ahue.

The storm is part of a collection of weather that dropped heavy rains across the state at the beginning of the week, causing a dam to overflow on the island of Maui Monday.

The storm was approaching Kaua‘i from the east, and heavy thunderstorms were nearing the shores of Anahola as of about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Ahue said the east and north shores of Kaua‘i, in particular, should brace for heavy rains over the next 24 hours.

In their Tuesday evening update, NWS said some homes have been flooded on Alamihi Road in Wainiha. Additional rainfall has continued to move over Kauai from the southeast with rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour.

Ahue said the storm system is drawing up moist air from south of the equator, and that is feeding into all the storms that have lately been developing around Hawai‘i.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it holds together and kind of gets towards Princeville/Hanalei area. But right now it’s still offshore. It’s just starting to move onshore right now,” Ahue said at about 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Ahue said in the 24-hour period ending about 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Mount Wai‘ale‘ale received 7.59 inches of rain, Kilohana received 5.14 inches mauka of Puhi, Princeville received 1.52 inches, and Lihu‘e Airport received 1.11 inches.

Kaua‘i will likely see scattered showers and trade winds for the rest of the week, he said.

“Moist air moving northwest under a trough aloft would produce wet weather through at least tonight, and possibly longer,” NWS said in a statement on its website. “A high northeast of the area will maintain breezy trade winds through tomorrow (today). Winds will weaken and shift out of the southeast by midweek as a trough forms west of the islands.”

Gov. David Ige signed an emergency declaration for the entire state Tuesday night, as heavy rains were causing flooding, landslides and fear of dam failure, prompting evacuations in at least two counties.

In Maui County, heavy rains completely washed out two bridges, making the roads impassable. There was also damage to other roads and bridges on the Valley Isle.

Across the state, saturated ground conditions and increased water levels in reservoirs have increased the risk of erosion, seepage, piping and fear of dam failure.

The emergency declaration gives the governor the authority to spend state funds as appropriated to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents and visitors. The declaration supports the state’s efforts to provide quick and efficient relief of suffering, damage and losses caused by flooding and other effects of the heavy rains.

For updates on road conditions and closures, call 241-1725. Do not call Kaua‘i police 911 unless there is an actual emergency.

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