Hurricane Lane drenched parts of Hawaii with 3-4 feet of rainfall, with one weather station tallying the third-highest “total rainfall from a tropical cyclone in the United States since 1950,” the National Weather Service says. The slow-moving storm caused floods and landslides as it moved west of the islands, back out over the Pacific Ocean.
Lane diminished as it neared Hawaii, but it still brought torrential rains as it lingered to the south and west of the islands. At one point over the weekend, the entire state was placed under a flash flood watch, Hawaii Public Radio reported.
“Significant flash flooding” hit multiple areas across the northeast and east-facing slopes of the Big Island, according to the National Weather Service. The agency reported water rescues in Hilo and the town of Keaau. And complicating matters further, several highways were closed by either landslides or floodwaters.
On the Big Island, the town of Mountain View recorded 51.53 inches of rain from Wednesday to Sunday. That’s the third-highest total ever measured from a U.S. storm, with the highest total being the 60.58 inches that fell on Nederland, Texas, over several days during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The weather service says the second-highest total is the 52 inches recorded during Hurricane Hiki’s hit on Hawaii in 1950.
Hilo International Airport got 36.76 inches of rain, making it “the wettest four-day period ever observed at Hilo, with records dating back to 1949,” the NWS says.
On Sunday, surfers who wanted to take advantage of high waves were forced to navigate through trees, limbs and other debris that floodwaters and ocean currents had deposited on the beach. Farther inland, some residents used their bodyboards to paddle through flooded areas.
While the Big Island got the most rainfall from Lane, several spots on Maui also reported more than a foot of rain.
As the rains grew less focused, flood warnings were finally lifted. Scattered rain has continued to fall on much of Hawaii, but relief is on the way, forecasters say.
“Drier, more typical trade wind weather is expected to move in from east to west across the state on Tuesday,” says the NWS office in Honolulu, “with quite comfortable weather expected Wednesday through Friday with noticeably lower humidity levels.”
In Hawaii County, officials say all schools are open for their regular hours on Monday. The county also says that while all major roads are open, some highways have been reduced to a single lane for repairs.
Lane, which weakened to a tropical depression on Sunday, regained tropical storm status early Monday, as its winds topped 40 mph. At the time, it was 520 miles west-southwest of Honolulu.
The next storm of the eastern Pacific season is already on its way to becoming a hurricane. Tropical Storm Miriam will likely attain hurricane status by Monday night or Tuesday morning, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center says.
There are no coastal warnings for Miriam, which is currently projected to veer north and weaken hundreds of miles east of Hawaii.