HONOLULU (AP) – A strong winter storm downed trees, knocked out power and flooded football fields as it moved across the Hawaiian Islands. Snow fell on the Big Island’s tallest peaks.
National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Rozanski said on Tuesday that the weather is typical of the kind of storm Hawaii occasionally gets in December and January. He called these storms “infrequent but not unusual”.
The cold front came in from the northwest, delivering thunderstorms, powerful wind gusts and high surf. Some residents reported pea-sized hail, which Rozanski said was to be expected during a storm of this kind.
Honolulu received dozens of calls about downed trees and branches. The county’s parks department closed Waipio’s football fields because they were saturated.
A power outage forced the closure of the Wailuku courthouse. That prompted Hawaii Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald to order the rescheduling of hearings, trials and filing deadlines on Maui.
The Director of Hawaii County Civil Defence Agency Talmadge Magno said that downed trees and flooding have blocked some roads.
Snow fell on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, including where a vent was spewing lava only a few weeks ago as Mauna Loa erupted for the first time in 38 years. Winter snow on these mountains is not uncommon at high elevations. Mauna Kea rises to 4,207 metres, and Mauna Loa is 4,169 metres.
The storm was still battering the Big Island as it moved east on Tuesday.
Magno said his agency expects to report the extent of the storm damage to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tomorrow.
The cold front is separate from another storm that started hitting the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday and that’s expected to move to the northern Rockies, Plains and Midwest.