KAILUA-KONA — A chance of rain remains on the table today for West Hawaii areas as former-Hurricane Lane moves farther away from Hawaii Island.
“You guys might receive an inch or two through tomorrow,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Gavin Shigesato said Friday evening shortly before the once-Category 5 hurricane packing 160 mph winds was downgraded to a tropical storm.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, Tropical Storm Lane featured 70 mph winds as it slowly headed northwest at 3 mph some 160 miles west of Kailua-Kona. The storm was battered by 40-50 mph wind shear all day Friday, knocking down Lane from a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds to a tropical storm in just 12 hours.
“We should continue to see this weakening trend,” said Leigh Anne Eaton, another forecasters with the Honolulu-based NWS.
Lane could be downgraded to a remnant low later today or Sunday as it heads on a more westerly track, forecasters said.
“If it survives long enough, the global models show Lane may get a new lease on life as an extra-tropical low over the Northwest Hawaiian Islands,” Robert Ballard with the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said. “In any case, we will be happy to get rid of the tropical cyclone in our vicinity. Until then, people should be mindful of additional impacts that can still occur until Lane departs.”
Once Lane is out of the neighborhood and the all-clear is given, Hawaii’s three main shipping companies said they are ready to get commodities moving between the islands again.
“Rest assured, cargo is moving, the barge for the Big Island has cargo on it and we’ll get it to the Big Island as soon as we’re given the all clear,” said Vic Angoco, senior vice president of Matson Navigation Co.
A tropical storm warning remained posted for Hawaii County, as did a flash flood watch and high surf advisory for east-facing shores, as of press time Friday. Forecasters, however, no longer expected tropical storm-force winds to impact Hawaii Island, instead calling for peak winds of 10-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph.
West Hawaii had been prepared to take a hit from the storm, but that didn’t materialize as the storm approached and passed. Instead, windward areas, from North Kohala to Puna, took the brunt of the storm. It’s unclear exactly why leeward areas appear to have been spared, but it could have to do with wind patterns, which were primarily blowing in from the east and northeast, and the island’s mountainous terrain.
“Kona is kind of shielded from the regular trade winds,” explained Shigesato. “In that sense, maybe, that could have played a factor in why you guys haven’t received (hardly) any rain or wind.”
During the 24 hours preceding 9 a.m. Friday, sites in West Hawaii areas reported receiving no more than a half-inch of rainfall.
The highest total was registered at Kahua Ranch, at the 4,000-foot elevation on Kohala Mountain, with 1.92 inches. The only areas reporting more than two-tenths of an inch of rain were Kahuku Ranch above Naalehu in Ka‘u with 0.48 inches, Honaunau with 0.23 inches, Kealakekua with 0.2 inches, Waiaha with 0.22 inches and Pohakuloa Kipuka Alala, on the southwest side of the Pohakuloa Training Area, with 0.42 inches.
Maximum wind speeds recorded Friday in Kailua-Kona were about 18 mph. Gusty conditions, however, were recorded in Waikoloa, which saw winds up to 46 mph, Waimea, which reported winds up to 51 mph, and Kohala Ranch, which registered 65 mph winds.
Though the west side has remained fairly dry and unscathed, East Hawaii got dumped on, according to the National Weather Service. Over 30 inches of rain fell at a couple locations on the east side of the island, the service said.
According to gauges available online, Mountain View saw more than a foot of rain fall in the 24-hour period ending at 9 a.m. The Hakalau gauge reported receiving 20.77 inches while the Saddle Road quarry area reported 20.17 inches of rain falling.