By Jeff King
As Tropical Storm Darby lumbers northwestward, east Maui continues to bear the brunt of an otherwise relatively mellow cyclone. Maui County officials have closed Hana Highway near Nahiku because of landslides and heavy rains. Also, Pi’ilani Highway in the area of Kaupo has been closed because of downed trees. Non essential travel is being strongly discouraged.
As of 5 a.m. today, Darby remained a tropical storm but weakening. The center was about 100 miles south of Maui with movement to the WNW at about 9 mph. The brunt of the system is offshore west of the Big Island. In fact, the Big Island is now out of the tropical storm watch. Darby is expected to weaken further to the status of a tropical depression by Monday.
As of 8 a.m. Maui Electric crews are responding to spotty power outages in east and Upcountry Maui but no major power failures have been reported this morning.
Winds – gusty at times – continue to threaten power lines in heavily forested areas but the sustained winds associated with tropical storms have generally spared most of the state. On the big island, South Point and Pahoa have received gusts in excess of 50 mph as did Kaupo in East Maui but those winds have since subsided tremendously.
Forecasters say Darby may not be done yet. The storm’s predicted turn to the northwest may be starting this morning. If so, look for locally strong gusty winds and potential flooding. Darby is expected to leave Maui County by tonight.