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Hawaii under state of emergency as winter storm brings flash flooding and high winds

Honolulu — From the empty shores of Oahu’s Waikiki Beach to the snowy summit of the Big Island’s highest peak, an unusually strong winter storm was clobbering the Hawaiian Islands on Tuesday and raising the threat of dangerous flash floods, landslides and crashing tree limbs. The strong storm over the nation’s only island state left eloping couples without weddings and tourists stuck indoors.

It also threatened the state’s infrastructure with a deluge of rain and wind.

Weather officials warned that slow-moving thunderstorms, high winds and heavy rains could persist through Wednesday and Governor David Ige issued a state of emergency for all of the state’s islands on Monday night.

Hawaii Severe Weather
A car turns onto a flooded Cooke Street, in Honolulu, Hawaii, December 6, 2021.

Marco Garcia/AP


CBS News affiliate HawaiiNewsNow reported that the island of Ohau, Haiwaii’s most populous, was under a flash flood warning until the early hours of Tuesday morning. By Monday evening, power provider Hawaiian Electric was reporting a significant electricity outage in downtown Honolulu. The company said one substation was reportedly flooded, and the power cut was likely to impact businesses and residents into Tuesday.

Five boys between the ages of 9 and 10 were rescued from a raging creek by Honolulu Fire Department workers, a statement from the agency said.

Before it hit Ohau and the capital the storm had already knocked out power to residents in communities elsewhere across the state.
  
Veterans and survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor 80 years ago planned to meet for the anniversary celebration Tuesday morning at Pearl Harbor. Navy spokesperson Brenda Way told The Associated Press in an email Monday that she has heard of no discussion of canceling the event because of the storms.


Veterans reflect on Pearl Harbor

02:11

The National Weather Service said the storm brings the threat of “catastrophic flooding” in the coming days as a low pressure system slowly moves from east to west and lingered on the edge of the archipelago.

“Now is the time to make sure you have an emergency plan in place and supplies ready should you need to move away from rising water,” Ige said in a statement.
 
On Oahu, where four shelters had been opened, most of the beaches in Waikiki were empty Monday as only a few people walked with umbrellas during passing heavy showers. Roadways were flooding in the area and cars crept through downtown as water gushed out of manhole covers.

Hawaii Severe Weather
A small tractor pushes sand off a walkway on Waikiki Beach, December 6, 2021, in Honolulu, Hawaii, as a strong storm packing high winds and extremely heavy rain flooded roads and downed power lines and tree branches across the state.

Marco Garcia/AP


On Maui, power outages and flooding were reported with more than a foot of rain falling in some areas. 

The relentless rain forced three couples from the U.S. mainland to postpone their Maui elopements, said Nicole Bonanno, owner of Bella Bloom Floral, a wedding florist and boutique in Wailea.
 
“The roads, everything are a mess,” she said. “There are lots of trees down.”
 
Maui resident Jimmy Gomes was waiting for the lights to come back at his home on Monday after losing power at 6 p.m. Sunday. His rain gauge measured 7 inches: “I haven’t seen this kind of rain in a long time,” he said.

All of Hawaii’s islands still faced the threat of flash flooding, lightning strikes, landslides and strong winds over the next two days, according to the National Weather Service.

Hawaii Severe Weather
In this webcam image provided by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, snow is seen atop the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii on December 6, 2021.

Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope via AP


The winter weather system known as a “Kona low” prompted emergency alerts throughout the weekend while delivering wind, rain and even blizzard conditions at some of Hawaii’s highest elevations.
 
A weekend blizzard warning was issued for the state’s highest peak, on the Big Island. Snow is not rare at the summit of Mauna Kea, which is nearly 14,000 feet high. The last time there was a blizzard warning for the summit was in 2018. No residents live at the summit, but there are telescope observatories and other offices where officials work.
 
The weather service said there were reports of 8 inches of snow on the road below the top of Mauna Kea, and officials were working to get to the summit to get more measurements. The forecast was for a foot of snow at the mountain’s peak.

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