Flash flood watch, winter storm warning to be posted tonight

A flash flood watch has been issued for Hawaii Island from 6 p.m. this evening through 6 p.m. Tuesday.

According to forecasters, a band of deep moisture will move over the eastern half of the state and stall through Tuesday. This band will likely trigger heavy rainfall and thunderstorms over the Big Island and Maui County. The band is expected to move eastward Tuesday night and Wednesday, though this flash flood watch may need to be extended if heavy rains linger.

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A flash flood watch means that conditions are favorable for flash flooding, which can be life threatening. Do not cross fast flowing water in your vehicle or on foot.

In case of a thunderstorm, the best place to be is indoors.

Hawaii County Civil Defense is advising residents to prepare for heavy rains by cleaning rain gutters and clearing drainage channels on their property.

County beach parks are open this morning, but may close without notice, Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno said.

Hilo Bayfront Highway remains closed.

Beachgoers, swimmers and surfers are advised to heed the instructions of Ocean Safety personnel.

Magno advised residents to monitor weather forecasts and be prepared to take action if a flash flood warning is issued.

If you experience heavy rain or rising water, head to higher ground immediately.

A winter storm warning will also be posted for the summits of Maunakea and Mauna Loa and the slopes above 11,000 feet.

That warning will be in effect from 6 p.m. this evening to 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service’s Honolulu office said.

Heavy snow is expected and the accumulation could be between five and 10 inches. Unlike recent events, snow levels will start above the 11,000-foot elevation level.

According to forecasters, the summit snow will also be a product of the band of deep moisture moving over the Big Island.

A winter storm warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected. Strong winds are also possible. These icy winter weather conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. Be prepared for icy roads and rapidly decreasing visibility at times.

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The road to the summit was open as of 9 a.m. today, but will likely be closed later due to hazardous winter weather conditions.

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

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