Stormy weather tapers off

  • VANESSA ALMANZA
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Flash flooding causes puddling along Highway 11 on Thursday in Hilo.

HILO — The relentless rain that pounded metal roofs and caused concerns about potential flash flooding in East Hawaii during the weekend appears to be pau for now.

“The active weather is settling down somewhat,” said Vanessa Almanza, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Honolulu, on Monday afternoon. “So now we’re getting into a lighter wind pattern for the next day or so, before we have trade winds kick back up again. There’ll be daytime land breezes and nighttime sea breezes.”

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The active weather Almanza referred to caused thundershowers Thursday in Hilo. But it was on Saturday the rain gauge at Hilo International Airport measured a daily record 2.8 inches, eclipsing the old record of 2.56 inches for April 13 set in 1999 by almost a quarter-inch.

Most East Hawaii rain gauges averaged more than an inch per day throughout a five-day period ending at 8 a.m. Monday, with some averaging more than 2 inches daily.

Glenwood, in the middle of upper Puna’s rain forest, tallied 13.01 inches during the period, while two gauges in Hilo’s higher elevations, Piihonua and Waiakea Uka, reported 12.87 and 12.17 inches, respectively. Hakalau had 9.5 inches, and Laupahoehoe measured 9.12 inches.

Hilo International Airport received 6.99 inches of rain during the same time frame.

Almanza said an upper-level low-pressure disturbance caused the rain, which she said “was pushed by the trade winds into the Big Island and Maui, for the most part.”

Maunakea and even Mauna Loa got some snow Thursday, but the summit was clear Monday afternoon and the road to the summit was open for 4-wheel-drive vehicles, according to the Maunakea Rangers online message.

Apparently, the combination of wet weather and a magnitude-5.2 earthquake that rattled much of the Big Island late Saturday afternoon caused a Sunday morning rock slide in Laupahoehoe Gulch — the second of three horseshoe gulches on Highway 19 in North Hilo — which blocked a Hilo-bound lane of traffic Sunday morning and prompted a police bulletin advising motorists to avoid the area, if possible.

The road was cleared by 11 a.m., according to police.

Some rain gauges in West Hawaii — the drier leeward side of the island — also recorded precipitation during the five-day period, with Kealakekua and Honaunau in the South Kona coffee belt receiving 1.55 and 1.34 inches, respectively. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park tallied 0.51 inches. The chronically arid Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole measured 0.01 inches.

The cool evenings Hilo has been experiencing are expected to continue through the week and into the weekend, with nightly temperature predictions in the lower 60s, according to the NWS website.

Showers also are likely through Easter Sunday in Hilo, with chances of precipitation set at 60% each day and evening. Expected daily rainfall totals are far lower than during the past week, though, in the 1/10 to 1/4 of an inch range.

Almanza said a new high-pressure system is expected to develop northeast of the islands in the second half of the week.

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“Trade winds will become locally breezy,” she said.

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

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