Published: Wed, August 29, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hawaii residents flee both flood and flames as hurricane threat fades

Hawaii residents flee both flood and flames as hurricane threat fades

One of the island's volcanoes is erupting, and the rain could still cause whiteout conditions on some active lava fields when it hits the molten rock and boils off as steam.

Dozens of residents have been forced to evacuate their homes over the past two days, wading through waist-high water, and sometimes spreading brush fires, to safety, while thousands of others remain in shelters.

Maui Electric is working to restore power. But meteorologists warned heavy rains could still wallop the islands with flash flooding and punishing winds.

Maui County Fire Battalion Chief Michael Werner said Saturday the fire has burned 2,000 acres in the Lahaina area.

He says the island got heavy rain overnight which helped douse the flames.

"Definitely we need a break", Hawaii County Managing Director Will Okabe said, quickly adding that it's hurricane season and other storms could still develop.

He is hopeful the rescuers will be able to get them as the weather improves.

He says all the rescues occurred in the east side of the Big Island. And highways division crews worked around the clock to clear mudslide after mudslide as trees, boulders and other debris shut down three major highways at one point.

The rainfall eased early Saturday.

Forecasters said as much as 10 more inches (25 centimeters) of rain could fall on Oahu and Maui as the storm churned about 110 miles (177 kilometers) south of Honolulu, moving north at 3 mph (5 kph).

Though the storm has turned west, lessening the threat to the islands, federal authorities urged caution as residents started cleaning up.

The hurricane also played a role in helping firefighters contain the fires, with about 12 inches of rain falling on the island in a 24-hour period through Saturday.

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By 11 a.m., after a night of wind and rain, swells that usually only reach a foot or two in the summer had grown to as much as 6 feet.

On Oahu, where Honolulu is located, only about 2.3 inches of rain has fallen.

It is now beginning to pull away from Hawaii as a tropical storm.

"Don't let your guard down", Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said during a telephone briefing in Washington.

Lane has dumped torrential rainfall on the Big Island and Maui over the past 48 hours.

Hurricane Lane, whose center was still offshore, lashed the Big Island with almost 20 inches of rain in about 24 hours. The storm already resulted in "life-threatening flooding and landslides", according to the National Weather Service.

Here's a look at the storm and its impact on Hawaii.

"Just devastation we had a lot of rain. the wind wasn't bad, but the rain was bad", said Joe Bandiero, a Big Island resident.

"We have asked our residents in these areas where they know it floods to be ready to leave", Caldwell said on Friday.

"The good news is Lane got weak and fell apart". Tropical systems prefer upper air wind patterns without any wind shear (the change in wind speed or direction with height).

The National Weather Service (NWS) lifted all remaining tropical storm warnings and watch advisories for Hawaii as trade winds finally began to nudge Lane off to the west.

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