Hawaii declares state of emergency as ‘Kona Low’ brings flooding, power outages

Weather Blog

HONOLULU (KXAN) — A storm system unique to Hawaii called a Kona Low is leading to dangerous flooding, extended power outages and school closures.

The Honolulu Airport has tallied nearly 10 inches of rain in the last several days, and heavy rain continues through the overnight hours Tuesday night. Strong, gusty winds are downing trees and leading to power outages that may last for days as weather conditions make it difficult for crews to make repairs.

Our sister station KHON in Honolulu reports Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed an emergency proclamation for the City and County of Honolulu Monday night, suspending certain ordinances in order to protect the health and safety of residents.

KHON also reports a power substation was flooded Monday night, knocking out power to residential areas as well as the state capitol and federal courthouse. The Honolulu Zoo is also experiencing flooding and is closed Tuesday. Two thousand seven hundred residents in Maui are without power as well.

What is a Kona Low?

The University of Hawaii says a Kona Low is an upper level low pressure system that occurs during the cool season in the north central Pacific. The Hawaiian word kona means “leeward” and is used to describe winds with a southerly component that replace the usually persistent trade wind regime. This deviation from typical wind patterns has a big impact on precipitation patterns due to Hawaii’s mountainous terrain.

Satellite image Tuesday afternoon showing "Kona Low" west of Hawaii, pumping rain and mountain snow onto the islands.
Satellite image Tuesday afternoon showing “Kona Low” west of Hawaii, pumping rain and mountain snow onto the islands.

Kona Lows throughout history in Hawaii have been responsible for heavy rains, hailstorms, flash floods, landslides, high winds, large surf, waterspouts and severe thunderstorms.

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