Heavy rain soaks island

March comes in like a lion

Traffic on Honoapiilani Highway emerges from a curtain of heavy rain Wednesday afternoon as it nears Lahaina. Stormy conditions forced drivers to slow to a crawl while passing through Launiupoko and Olowalu. • The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

It was raining all over Maui on Wednesday as all working gauges collected some precipitation with the highest totals of more than 5 inches recorded in West Wailuaiki in East Maui and more than 4 inches in the Kaupo Gap in southeast Maui.

The heavy rain caused Hana Highway in East Maui to be blocked late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, a power outage in upper Nahiku on Tuesday night and the posting of an advisory by the Health Department to stay out of brown water along shorelines.

The heavy seas with small craft warnings posted also led a boat to break its moorings and to go aground near the old Suda Store in Kihei.

There also were reports of flooding in South Maui and other parts of the island Wednesday night, with the ground saturated by rain over the last couple of days. The National Weather Service posted a flash flood watch for Maui County through Wednesday night.

At about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, radar showed moderate to heavy showers moving over Maui from the south, impacting Napili to Kihei with lighter showers spreading over windward areas, the weather service said. Maui police were reporting that parts of South Kihei Road were closed due to ponding, the weather service said.

Cathee and Bob Alex of Watertown, Conn., navigate around a large puddle while returning to Lahaina on Wednesday after walking to Kaanapali’s Black Rock and back. On Tuesday, thinking it “would be a good day to see waterfalls,” the couple drove around the entire island, starting by circling the West Maui Mountains and continuing on to circumnavigate Haleakala. “Maui is moody,” Cathee said. “But we would be in snow if we were in Connecticut.” • The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

At about 8 p.m., police reported flooding in Upcountry and Kihei, making driving dangerous, and advised motorists to stay off the roads.

Emergency and Maui Electric crews were responding Wednesday night to a large tree leaning on power lines and blocking Kula Highway at Mile Post 16, police said. The road was closed and traffic delays expected.

An upper trough and deep layer of moisture over the islands were generating the heavy showers and thunderstorms, the weather service said. The showers were expected to diminish across the state today through Friday as the trough moves north of the island chain.

The system is generating Kona winds, which will remain into the weekend, the weather service said. Vog and humid conditions were expected during this period of southerly winds.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the West Wailuaiki gauge reported 5.29 inches over the previous 24 hours and the Kaupo Gap gauge, 4.22 inches. A Kula gauge collected 2.43 inches and the Haiku, Wailuku, Puu Kukui in the West Maui Mountains, Pukalani, Ulupalakua, Waikapu and Maalaea gauges all reported more than 1 inch during the period.

The 35-foot cabin motorboat Hanamana broke its offshore moorings Wednesday and came ashore near the old Suda Store. • LENIE LAWRENCE photo

Heavy rain Tuesday night generated two landslides on Hana Highway in East Maui, one completely blocking the road, according to Transportation Department spokesman Tim Sakahara. The landslide at Mile Marker 21.5 at about 9 p.m. covered both lanes of traffic. State crews cleared debris and had one lane open at 4 a.m. Wednesday and both lanes were open an hour later.

A fallen tree partially blocked traffic at Mile Marker 9 on Hana Highway and was eventually cleared, he said. Given the chances for landslides and fallen trees along the road during heavy rain, Sakahara advised those planning trips to Hana to check weather conditions before going.

Sakahara also said he had no reports of disruptions at airports or harbors due to the storm.

During the same storm period that led to the landslides on Hana Highway, 44 customers in upper Nahiku lost power at about 7:25 p.m. Tuesday, said Maui Electric spokeswoman Shayna Decker. Lightning struck a transformer at the Nahiku Substation.

Repairs were delayed by the road closures, landslides and fallen trees, she said. Crews were able to restore power to all customers at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

On the south side of the island, the 35-foot cabin motorboat Hanamana broke its offshore mooring in the area off South Kihei and Uwapo roads at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, said state Department of Land and Natural Resources spokeswoman Deborah Ward.

The vessel came aground on the sandy shoreline fronting 61 S. Kihei Road in the area of the Kihei Canoe Club and the old Suda Store, she said. No one was aboard.

No major damage was observed and no fuel was leaking from the boat, she said.

The owner is William Domen Jr., who is working to remove the vessel, Ward said. However, DLNR officials later reported that the owner did not have insurance.

The DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation and U.S. Coast Guard were notified of the beaching, Ward said.

Fire Services Chief Ed Taomoto reported no major rescue calls Wednesday in the ocean or on hiking trails along swollen streams.

The Health Department issued a brown water advisory for Maui due to the heavy rains on Wednesday. The public is advised to stay out of floodwaters and stormwater runoff, which could contain material from overflowing cesspools and sewer manholes as well as pesticides, animal fecal matter, animal carcasses, pathogens and chemicals.

Not all water is affected but if the water is brown, the Health Department advises to stay out of the ocean and to practice good personal hygiene.

For more information, go to the website health.hawaii.gov/cwb.

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