Hawaii is threatened by heavy rains that are likely to last at least two more days and damage life, infrastructure and property throughout the state, Democratic Gov. David Ige said as he declared a state of emergency.
“Hawaii is in danger of a disaster occurrence of heavy rains, flooding, high winds, and high surf which are forecast to continue through December 8, 2021,” the governor’s emergency declaration reads, “with anticipated localized flooding, lingering saturated ground conditions, and periods of heavy rains and flooding which are expected to cause extensive damage.”
The governor’s declaration, which is set to remain in effect through Friday, will allow authorities to allocate funding, temporarily suspend laws that could interfere with emergency management efforts, and take action to save lives, including by ordering mandatory evacuations and shutting off power lines.
In its latest forecast discussion, issued after midnight local time on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said the Kona storm — a subtropical cyclone that occurs during the cool season — would “bring the threat of heavy rain and locally gusty winds to Kauai County and Oahu,” where a flood watch remains in effect.
However, it added that “the threat of significant flooding” appeared to have diminished in the Big Island and Maui County and that a “breezy and drier trade wind weather pattern will spread over all islands by Thursday, continuing into the weekend.”
There were significant power outages in Honolulu, with more than 1,000 people without electricity, Hawaii News Now reported, adding that one substation was reportedly flooded.
Honolulu’s mayor, Rick Blangiardi, warned residents in a Facebook post on Monday evening: “Now is not a good time to go for a hike, or engage in risky behavior. Please make good choices to ensure our emergency services personnel don’t need to endanger their lives in a rescue operation.”
Emergency personnel in Oahu earlier on Monday reported “ongoing significant flash flooding, especially in the urban areas of Honolulu,” with “[s]everal vehicle rescues, water evacuation requests, inundated homes, and road closures.”