Monday | December 11, 2017
About Us | Contact | Subscribe

Wind whips Big Island

Advisory-level winds wreaked havoc around the island today, toppling trees, downing power lines and causing electrical and phone outages.

At 3:15 p.m. the National Weather Service reported sustained northerly winds of 25 mph with gusts of 29 mph at Hilo International Airport. Forecaster Matt Foster said Keahole International Airport in Kona reported the strongest afternoon winds, with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph and gusts of 47 mph.

“We had some high wind behind this departing front that came through …,” Foster said. He said winds were expected to weaken “rather quickly” tonight.

A high wind advisory has been extended until 10 p.m. tonight.

According to Hanson, trees caused property damage and road closures in varying locations.

“There’s a tree that came down on a house, over a car, on a driveway. There were two trees blocking Kahakai Boulevard (in lower Puna) alone,” he said.

A tree on North Kulani Road in upper Puna crashed to the road with a power line, closing North Kulani between Stainback Highway and Ihope Road, as well, in the early afternoon.

“We have (Hawaii Electric Light Co.) up there trying to de-energize at this time,” Hanson said at about 3:30 p.m. “Once we de-energize, we have Department of Public Works standing by to chop up the tree so we can reopen that road.

In addition, Hanson said downed trees were reported on Kinoole Street in Hilo and Kapehu Street in Pepeekeo, as well as in North Kohala.

“Some of it’s on private land, but the (county) Department of Public Works is helping, cutting them up and pushing them off to the side,” he said.

According to Hanson, a tree touched an electrical line, causing arcing and an electrical fire on Mamalahoa Highway (Route 190) between Kaiminani Drive and Hina Lani Street in Kailua-Kona.

The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in South Kohala experienced a power outage relatively early in the day but power had been restored, he added.

HELCO spokeswoman Rhea Lee-Moku said shortly before 4 p.m. the utility was dealing with “multiple outages around the island.”

“It seems the outages were mainly concentrated in the Puna area, on the Kona side, near Palani Road and up toward the Makalei Golf Course area,” Lee-Moku said. “Most of the circuits have been restored. We still have outages in the Kapoho area and reports of customers out in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

“All available crews are responding to reports of downed power lines, trees on the lines and related issues due to the wind. … I really want to emphasize people not touching or approaching downed power lines and calling to report them. The lines could be energized and dangerous.”

The number to report outages or downed lines is 969-6666.

In addition, a high surf warning is posted for all north facing shores of the Big Island until 6 p.m. Wednesday. A high surf warning means there is a threat to life and property from the surf.

Surf was reportedly between 20-25 feet in some spots and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America cruise vessel with its 2,250 passengers and 900 crewmembers didn’t make its weekly Tuesday port call in Hilo.

“It was a decision made by the cruise ship or the company,” said state Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara. “There was no reason stated.”

The Tribune-Herald was unable to reach NCL’s corporate communications office in Miami.

Foster said the surf should be decreasing by tonight, but another swell is expected this weekend.

“It should be … slightly larger, but probably with about the same level of impact, building this weekend — probably Sunday for you guys. Kind of the same direction, maybe a little more north-northwest,” he said.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

Rules for posting comments