Weaker Wali is plenty wet, on its way

Wali was downgraded from a tropical depression to a post tropical cyclone Friday afternoon, but the system’s remnants, expected to reach Maui County this evening, still will carry lots of moisture and possible thundershowers, the National Weather Service said Friday afternoon.

At 5 p.m. Friday, what once was Tropical Depression Wali was about 715 miles east southeast of Hilo, moving northwest at 12 mph with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. Maui and the Big Island are expected to begin seeing the effects of the storm this evening with the storm moving over the rest of the state Sunday to Monday, the weather service said.

A flash-flood watch has been posted for 6 a.m. today through 6 p.m. Monday. The storm is expected to bring heavy rain and thunderstorms but not damaging-level winds and storm surge, a weather service meteorologist said Thursday.

Humid conditions also are expected.

Maui County is making preparations for the arrival of the possible heavy rain.

The Makawao and Kula forest reserves, including Polipoli Spring State Park. will be closed beginning at noon today by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources due to possible heavy rain and flash flooding. DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement will assist forestry staff to check the areas and notify users, place signs and lock gates.

Staff will conduct an assessment Monday morning to determine whether those areas are safe to reopen.

County workers are checking drainage ways for obstructions and clearing them; pumps are being deployed in areas were flooding regularly occurs; equipment is being checked and prepped; vehicles and backup generators are being fueled; and loose items are being secured, said Maui County spokesman Rod Antone.

Maui Police and Fire departments are ready should there be flooding or other storm emergencies, he said.

Maui Electric Co. also reported preparing for the storm and urged residents to do the same.

MECO’s tips included:

* Turning off and unplugging unnecessary electrical equipment, especially sensitive electronics that could be damaged by a power surge.

* Turning refrigerators and freezers to their highest settings. If power goes out, keep the fridge and freezer closed as much as possible and food will stay fresh longer. (Make sure to turn the settings back to normal levels after the storm has passed.)

If power goes out:

* If using a portable generator, make sure it is in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Don’t plug the generator directly to household electrical outlets; this can cause power to flow back into power lines causing a safety hazard. Instead, plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy-duty extension cords.

* Use flashlights instead of candles or kerosene lamps, which can pose a fire risk. Be especially careful with cooking flames indoors because a gust of wind could start a fire.

* Don’t use charcoal or other fossil fuels to cook indoors because they can create deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Cook only in well-ventilated areas.

* Leave one light on to know when power returns.

When coming across a downed power line:

* Do not touch fallen or low-hanging wires or anything the wires may be touching; assume every wire is energized and dangerous. Stay clear of puddles where downed lines may have landed. Call the Maui Electric Trouble Line at 871-7777 on Maui or (877) 871-8461 on Molokai and Lanai; call 911 for immediate emergency help.

* If a power line has fallen on their car, occupants are urged to stay inside the vehicle if possible and to wait for help. If possible, they are advised to try to break contact with the line by driving the car away from it. If it is necessary to leave the car right away because of some other pending danger like fire, occupants should jump out and away from the car, clearing the vehicle before touching the ground and trying to land on two feet. This will prevent the body from becoming an electrical path from the car to the ground.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.