Hawaii Threatened With ‘Catastrophic Flooding,’ Landslides, and Power Outages After Weekend of Heavy Rain and Snow

Cloud cover over Hawaii on Monday. The storm system brought snow to the Big Island summits, but forecasters warned that the rain was more worrying. / Credit…NOAA

A seasonal cyclone is expected to inundate Hawaii with heavy rainfall through Tuesday afternoon, with the potential for “catastrophic flooding,” landslides and widespread loss of power throughout the islands, the National Weather Service said.

The cyclone is a type of storm called a kona low, which typically stalls, drops large amounts of rain in one location and comes from a southerly direction, bringing moisture to areas that do not usually get much rainfall, the service said.

But given the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, it is rare for a kona low to stall directly over the Hawaiian islands, as one is doing this week, meteorologists said.

“This is an extreme weather event,” said Adam Weintraub, a spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

As of early Monday morning, parts of Maui had already received about 11 inches of rain, “a dangerous amount,” according to David Roth, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.

That danger is expected to heighten, officials said, as rainfall totals could reach 10 to 15 inches across the state by Tuesday, with isolated areas seeing up to 25 inches, according to the service.

Oahu, the most populated island and home to Honolulu, is expected to receive heavy rainfall on Monday night and early Tuesday morning, Mr. Weintraub said.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Eduardo Medina