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.
Wailuku – Tropical Storm Darby has turned south but is still on track to hit Maui this afternoon. Residents should see elevated storm conditions at around 5 p.m.
Darby is expected to bring about 10 to 15 inches of rain, 15 to 20 foot waves on eastern shores and sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts of up to 65 mph. The public is urged to stay indoors during the storm and to keep non-essential travel down to a minimum.
Wind and rain preceding Darby has already caused some damage on Maui. Hana Highway was closed earlier today due to landslides and downed trees in several different locations between mileposts 9 and 20.
Other weather related incidents reported today include:
– Kaupakalau Road in Haiku – flooded
– Meha and Kealaloa roads in Makawao – fallen tree blocking both lanes
– Waikoloa and Ulaino roads in Hana – flooded
– The closure of Molokai Landfill due to winds of more than 30 mph
Maui Electric reported multiple storm related outages around the island, including those in Lower Nahiku, Upper Olinda and Haliimaile.
All outdoor county park facilities remain closed although community centers and gymnasiums remain open. Haleakala National Park is also closed. Both the Lanai and Molokai ferry operations have shut down while the storm is active.
All emergency shelters remain open. The list of shelters are: Lanai High School, Molokai High Schol, Lahainaluna High School, Maui High School, Lokelani Intermediate, Eddie Tam Memorial and Center and Hana High School.
10 a.m. Saturday Update
As Tropical Storm Darby “reloads” from daytime warming, the early bands of the system are impacting Maui. The National Weather Service issued a Flood Advisory for parts of the island at 10 a.m. Heavy rains are falling in and around Keanae in East Maui as well as windward slopes of Haleakala and the West Maui Maui Mountains.
That advisory is in effect until 1 p.m. today and may be extended. A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect through Sunday afternoon along with a High Surf Warning for east facing shores of Maui and Molokai. Also in effect are the Tropical Storm Warning – which means tropical storm conditions are expected or are occurring now. Those conditions include very strong winds (39 mph or greater – sustained – with higher gusts) very large surf and rainfall amounts that could reach double digits. For Maui, those conditions are possible within the next 24 hours.
For the latest updates, statements, maps, forecasts and storm images, go to Maui Weather Today. Island forecaster Glenn James’ decades of experience continues to be the most reliable source of conditions and the forecast.
Statewide, because of the uncertainty of what the storm might do, one air carrier is making it easier for traveler who need to make last minute changes. Island Air will waive reservation change fees and differences in fares for customers needing to change their travel plans due to Tropical Storm Darby. Effective immediately, customers ticketed for travel on Island Air now through this Monday will be permitted to change their reservations without charge to ticketed flights through August 1, 2016. Passengers with reservations are advised to check Island Air’s website at www.islandair.com or call the reservations desk to check on the status of scheduled flights prior to arriving at the airport.
The Coast Guard 14th District is closing all major ports in the state – from East to West – as the storm moves through. Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COPT) closed Hawaii and Maui County ports to all traffic. All cargo operations in these ports are secured. Vessels transiting within the vicinity of the Hawaiian Island harbors should seek sheltered waters until storm conditions subside and the COTP has deemed the ports safe to reopen.
Current port closures:
All ocean going commercial vessels and ocean going barges greater than 300 gross tons are expected to make preparations to leave the ports by the following times:
Once the storm has passed and the threat of severe weather has subsided, the Coast Guard, Army Corp of Engineers and State of Hawaii will jointly conduct surveys of channel blockage and prioritize steps to resume essential, then normal, vessel traffic. These steps are to minimize risk of damage to vessels and assess the conditions of channels, aids to navigation, waterfront facilities, piers and other infrastructure.
The COTP, in conjunction with the state DOT-Harbors in Hawaii, will begin sending Port Assessment Teams to accessible areas of the zone as soon as it is safe to do so over the weekend.
Maui County officials and Civil Defense are keeping their eye on the storm and taking as many precautions as they see fit. Parks are closed and overnight camping permits have been revoked during the storm. In addition, shelters are open for anyone displaced by the storm conditions.
Maui TV News will continue to update you on any and all facts and prognostications we come across through the storm – an unusual occurrence for Maui, even though we’re right in the middle of the pacific storm track.
Wailuku – Due to the arrival of Tropical Storm Darby, Maui County will be closing all outdoor park facilities tomorrow (Saturday) morning. This includes all campsites, pools, fields, beach parks, pavilions, stadiums and the golf course.
All Department of Parks & Recreation programs, community classes and other activities held in these areas are likewise canceled until further notice. Community centers and gymnasiums will remain open for the time being.
The county also asks that as a precaution, businesses and residents should try to conserve water during the storm. This includes turning off the tap while washing your hands and brushing your teeth, flushing the toilet less frequently and making sure to turn off any outside sprinkler systems.
Finally, police and fire department officials ask that motorists keep all non-essential travel down to a minimum during the storm. Please stay indoors and leave the roadways for emergency personnel use.
Mayor Alan Arakawa has signed an emergency proclamation. The proclamation authorizes the expenditure of County monies for quick, easy and efficient relief of disaster-related damages, losses and suffering resulting from the storm.
Gov. David Ige has also signed a pre-landfall emergency proclamation as the state prepares for Tropical Storm Darby.
“Our top priority is to protect the health, safety and welfare of Hawai’i’s residents and visitors. I urge residents and businesses to follow emergency instructions, prepare for the storm and take steps to protect your families, employees and property. The state is standing by to assist the counties — particularly Hawai’i and Maui counties — which are expected to be the first to feel the impact of Tropical Storm Darby,” said Governor Ige.
The disaster emergency relief period begins today and continues through July 29, 2016.
The Central Pacific Hurricane Center is issuing specific bulletins for locations across the eastern end of the Hawaiian Islands. The 1 p.m. narrative is as follows:
Tropical storm Darby is continuing its steady March toward the Big Island at midday. The center of Darby will be approaching the Big Island Saturday morning and will pass very near, or over, the Big Island on Saturday. A gradual turn toward the northwest is expected later Saturday, with the center of Darby expected to pass very near, or over, Maui county Saturday night. However, rain and wind will increase well ahead of the center.
For the Big Island, the chance for damaging tropical storm conditions at Hilo is 63 percent, 53 percent at bradshaw field, 27 percent at South Point, and 42 percent at Kailua-Kona.
For Maui county, the chance for damaging tropical storm conditions at Kahului is 51 percent, 55 percent at Hana, 42 percent at Lanai city, and 43 percent at Kaunakakai.
Based on the latest forecast track, tropical storm force winds over 39 mph are expected to begin overspreading the Big Island late tonight, and Maui county on Saturday. In some areas, winds will be as high as 50 to 60 mph with gusts to 70 mph. Even higher gusts will be possible over mountainous terrain, through passes, and where winds blow downslope. These effects can occur well away from the center of Darby.
Homes may have damage to roofs, siding, gutters and windows, especially if these items are not properly secured. Loose outdoor items will become airborne, causing additional damage and possible injury.
Many power lines will be knocked down by falling trees, resulting in extended power outages in some areas. Many large branches of trees will be snapped, and many weaker trees will be snapped or uprooted.
A high surf warning is in effect for east facing shores of the Big Island and Maui. Surf is expected to build to 15 to 25 feet today with occasional higher sets. This may cause significant wave runup and damage on some windward coastal roads. Refer to the high surf warning for more details.
A flash flood watch is in effect. Showers will increase on the Big Island tonight, followed by heavy rain and squalls with embedded thunderstorms Saturday into Sunday. These conditions will spread to Maui county on Saturday as well. Refer to the flash flood watch for more details on the flood threat from Darby.
Your preparations should be rushed to completion. In a tropical storm, conditions can change quickly. Evacuate if directed to do so by local officials, or if your home is vulnerable to high winds or flooding.
Secure outdoor objects which can be blown around and cause additional damage.
Tropical storms can bring intense rain leading to severe flash flooding. People near streams, rivers, and other flood prone areas are urged to be especially alert to flash flooding.
Cancel any beach activities until further notice. Persons living near the shore should be prepared to evacuate quickly should building surf threaten. Other outdoor activities, including camping and hiking, should be postponed until after the storm.
The next local statement will be issued around 6:30 pm HST, or sooner if conditions warrant.
Wailuku, Maui – The following list of shelters has been confirmed by Maui County for the public’s use during Tropical Storm Darby. Tropical storm conditions are expected across Maui County between now and midnight Saturday:
East Maui – Hana High School
Upcountry Maui – Eddie Tam Memorial Center
South Maui – Lokelani Intermediate School
Central Maui – Maui High School
West Maui – Lahainaluna High School
Lanai – Lanai High
Molokai – Molokai High
Please note that these shelters are not equipped with amenities, and that residents seeking shelter need to bring their own food, water, medicine and other emergency supplies.
All shelters are scheduled to open at 7 p.m. today (Friday, July 22), except for Molokai and Lanai high schools. An opening time for those shelter locations has not been determined yet and will be announced later today.
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