World

Downpours lash Maui as Tropical Storm Olivia approaches Hawaii

AP

A gradually weakening tropical storm hit Hawaii on Wednesday, soaking a part of Maui and sending gusts of wind that toppled trees and cancelled flights at a number of airports in the state.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa urged residents and visitors to stay off the road until the Tropical Storm Olivia passed, but he was hopeful the effects of the storm on his county would be limited.

“It’s been an ordeal but we’re coming through this fairly well,” Arakawa said. “I’m not seeing any really large areas of damage, no homes destroyed or flooded to any kind of extreme measures as we did in previous storms.”

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Olivia was about 45 miles (75 kilometers) south of Honolulu on Oahu, the state’s most heavily populated island. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph).

The storm made landfall twice: once in the west Maui mountains and again on Lanai before continuing to move further west.

Lori-Lei Rawlins-Crivello, owner of one of the two gas stations on the small island of Molokai, said she was watching a nearby river rise.

She closed her Texaco service station in the afternoon. Most stores in Kaunakakai, the island’s largest town, were closed, she said.

A flash flood warning was issued for Molokai island and Maui. A wind gust of 51 mph (82 kph) was recorded at the airport on the island of Lanai.

A rain gauge recorded 7.72 inches (20 centimeters) of rain in 24 hours at West Wailua Iki on Maui.

The storm, which was a hurricane earlier in the week, slowly lost power as it neared and crossed the state.

Matthew Foster, a meteorologist with the hurricane center, said strong winds will likely continue on Maui through early afternoon and then start to die off. They’ll linger on Oahu through the early evening.

Tropical storm warnings were canceled overnight for the Big Island and Kauai, but remain in place for Oahu, Maui and small islands surrounding Maui.

Schools, courts and government offices were closed in Maui County in preparation for the storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency sent emergency teams and supplies to Maui ahead of the storm. The National Guard has mobilized personnel and trucks to the east side of Maui.

President Donald Trump has signed a disaster declaration for Hawaii, which will help FEMA respond, Gov. David Ige said.

Hawaiian Airlines cancelled flights by its commuter airline, Ohana by Hawaiian.

Public schools on the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai were open.

Tourists, like Randy McQuay from Texas, weren’t letting the storm dampen their vacations. “No, coming from Houston we’re used to storms and hurricanes,” he said. “Didn’t expect to find one in Hawaii, but yeah we’re used to it.”

Solana Miller, who lives on Oahu’s North Shore, said she wasn’t too worried about Olivia.

“I feel like it’s mainly just going to be some rain and wind, but we’ll see. The last storm was supposed to be a category 5 hurricane and it was just a couple hours of rain,” she said.

Miller said she has leftover preparations from when Hurricane Lane passed near the state last month.

“We kind of just kept all the water and the cans of food and stuff,” she said, “so if anything really hits we’ll be fine.”