Flooding hit parts of Hawaii’s Big Island Thursday as residents of Hawaii’s other islands prepared for the slow-moving Hurricane Lane to bring strong winds and heavy rains.
The National Weather Service said “extreme flooding” was happening on Hawaii’s Big Island — more than 2 feet of rain had fallen in some areas and large parts of the island were under a flash flood warning Thursday night.
Hurricane Lane was a Category 3, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and was moving slowly, at 6 mph, moving north toward the islands Thursday night — it’s expected to remain a “dangerous” hurricane, the weather service said.
Hawaii’s governor, David Ige, told residents to avoid flood waters “due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer, manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals, and associated flood debris.”
Emergency workers rescued five tourists visiting the Big Island from California, The Associated Press reported. They were renting a house in the town of Hilo when a gulch overflowed.
As of Thursday night, Hawaii’s Civil Defense Agency said there was no mandatory evacuation in effect, though police and fire officials were advising residents in the Reeds Island area to evacuate. The agency listed six locations open as shelters.
The Big Island reportedly got close to 20 inches of rain in 24 hours.
Landslides and flooding forced roads to shut down on parts of Hawaii Island, another name for the Big Island. The island is the largest in land area of Hawaii’s islands, but is largely rural.
More than 14 landslides hit Highway 19 in the area of Honomu forcing four road closures, the Hawaii Department of Transportation said. The government listed more than a dozen other road and bridge closures as of Thursday night.
On the next island over, Maui, the governor said at least 264 people, visitors and residents, were using evacuation shelters on Thursday night. Almost 2,000 people on the island lost power, according to Maui Electric, but for most, it was quickly restored.
Most of Hawaii’s population lives on Oahu island, where Honolulu is located, and which is still awaiting the full force of the storm.
As workers piled sandbags and boarded up store windows, pictures showed many still enjoying the waves of Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach Thursday. Police reportedly later told swimmers to get out of the water.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Oahu and Maui County late Thursday, and tropical storm conditions were already happening in both areas as of late Thursday local time.
“Hurricane conditions are expected over some areas of Maui County and Oahu starting Friday and continuing through Friday night. Tropical storm or hurricane conditions are possible on Kauai starting late Friday or Friday night,” the NWS said.
Rainfall could reach 30 to 40 inches in certain areas of the Hawaiian Islands, the National Weather Service said, and accumulations more generally of 10 to 20 inches.
Surf on shorelines could reach as high as 20 feet, according to the AP.