Weaker Lane soaks Hawaii
Stores reopening after downgraded storm’s island deluge
The island mountains ripped apart the storm, but rainfall is catastrophic.
HONOLULU — Weather officials dropped all warnings Saturday after Tropical Storm Lane weakened and turned away from Hawaii.
The once-powerful storm began moving to the west, breaking its northward march toward Honolulu after drenching the Big Island and Maui over the past two days. The slowmoving storm dumped 45 inches of rain on the Big Island and about a foot on Maui before it was downgraded Friday to a tropical storm.
The storm was 110 miles south of Honolulu, but the state’s most populous city was largely spared from any impacts.
The National Weather Service recorded about 2.3 inches of rain on Oahu in a 24-hour period ending Saturday.
Shops along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu began reopening Saturday. Tourists wandered the beach and took leisurely swims. Hotels began putting deck chairs back alongside pools. Dozens of surfers were in the Pacific Ocean.
Lane is expected to whip up waves for days.
Surfer Guyvan Taevil, said that he had only one thing on his mind the past week. “Waves,” Taevil said, clutching his blue body board on the shores of Kona. “It was the first thing that popped into my head.”
Winds were also calmer on Maui, which had seen about 12 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 50 mph. On Saturday, winds were about 11 mph.
Like the Big Island, Maui experienced flooding and landslides, but no stormrelated deaths.
Still, forecasters had said as much as 10 more inches of rain could fall on parts of Oahu and Maui.
“Don’t let your guard down,” Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said during a telephone briefing Saturday in Washington.
Rain began falling several days ago on the Big Island, which has received nearly 4 feet in some areas.
Authorities rescued people from more than 20 homes overnight, Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe said, and landslides and pooling water forced the temporary closure of several highways.
The rainfall eased Saturday.
The American Red Cross said more than 1,100 people were staying in shelters, mostly in Oahu. And while the number was down from earlier reports, officials said the figure shows a lot of people are still displaced.
Lane first approached the islands last week as a Category 5 hurricane, meaning it was likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds of 157 mph or above.
But upper-level winds known as shear swiftly tore the storm apart.
By Saturday, the National Weather Service said Lane had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.
The outer bands of the hurricane dumped as much as 45 inches of rain on the mostly rural Big Island, the Weather Service said. The main town of Hilo, with 43,000 people, was flooded Friday with waist-high water.
As flooding hit the Big Island, winds fanned brush fires that had broken out in dry areas of Maui and Oahu. Some residents in a shelter on Maui had to flee flames, and another fire forced people from their homes.
Flames burned nine homes in the historic coastal town of Lahaina and forced 600 people to evacuate, Maui County spokeswoman Lynn Araki-Regan said. Some have returned, but many have not because much of the area lacks power, Araki-Regan said.
Those outages meant the water provider on Maui’s west side was unable to pump, so officials at the Maui Electric utility urged conservation.
In Honolulu’s Waikiki, the man-made Ala Wai Canal was likely to flood if predicted rains arrive, said Ray Alexander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The canal marks the northern boundary of the Waikiki tourist district.
“The canal has flooded in the past, and I believe it’s safe to say based on the forecast of rainfall it’s likely to flood again — the impacts of which we aren’t prepared to say at this time,” Alexander said.
Major flooding could damage 3,000 structures and cost more than $1 billion in repairs, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper reported, citing Corps estimates.
The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with only about four or five named storms a year, officials said. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit Hawaii was Iniki in 1992. But others have come close in recent years.
Kevin Pak empties hydro barriers, used to block water much like a sandbag, as he helps reopen a store Saturday along Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Lane veered from the islands.