HONOLULU — Flossie’s Hawaiian adventure: Short, scattered and more powerful than many believed it would be at first.
National Weather Service officials say the tropical depression is expected to exit Hawaii on Tuesday as a weakened version of the storm that prompted school and court closures and an emergency declaration from Gov. Neil Abercrombie before hitting shore.
But hours after surfers caught waves on the Big Island and tourists sunbathed despite showers and overcast skies in Waikiki, Flossie made its mark on the state with widespread thunder and lightning, heavy rain and winds that knocked out power to thousands on several islands.
“Mother nature throws curve balls at us to make us more busy,” said Michael Cantin, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
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Maui County officials said Monday night that widespread power outages were affecting water service on many parts of Maui and Molokai, with no estimate of when power will be restored.
Winds and rainfall from the faltering system earlier knocked out power for about 6,500 people on Maui and the Big Island.
On Oahu, rolling thunder rumbled across the most populous island in the chain, causing the term “thunder” to trend in Honolulu on Twitter.
“Be sure to have your flashlights charged and ready,” Abercrombie said on his official Twitter account.
Forecasters said the thunderstorms could bring small hail to Oahu.
The National Weather Service canceled all storm warnings for Tropical Storm Flossie in Hawaii on Monday evening, keeping a flash flood watch in effect statewide until Tuesday night. The service later issued a flash flood warning for Maui, where live television footage showed thunder and lightning, fast-moving clouds and plenty of rain and wind.
At one point, rain fell at rates of 4 inches per hour, and the service recommended people in low-lying areas move to higher ground right away.
Weather officials said a downgraded Flossie could still cause outages and road closures, with wind gusts up to 40 mph through mountain passes.
Darren Pai, spokesman for Hawaiian Electric Company, said about 4,500 people were without power on the Big Island on Monday night as the utility responded to multiple outages that started in the late morning. Another roughly 2,000 people lost power in Kihei, Maui, but were restored. Other outages were reported in Hana and Piiholo before being restored, Pai said.
Flossie faded through the morning thanks to winds that broke layers of the storm apart, said Tom Evans, acting director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Warnings about the storm didn’t stop some tourists from heading to popular beaches, despite urgings from state officials to cancel all beach trips until further notice. In Waikiki, beaches were unusually sparse as those outside contended with overcast skies and rain ahead of Flossie’s arrival.
Kelly Tarkington, a college student from Savannah, Ga., got a sunburn from spending eight hours on the beach Sunday but had to take refuge from the rain under a beach umbrella Monday along with her aunt.
“I’m mostly worried about our flight out of here tomorrow night,” Tarkington said.
The U.S. Coast Guard closed three ports — two on the Big Island where the storm was expected first, and a third port on Maui. Airports statewide were open Monday but many flights were being canceled.
Trails and campgrounds also were closed on the Big Island.