Hawaii bracing for Tropical Storm Felicia

Jim Weyman
Jim Weyman
Mayor Billy Kenoi
Mayor Billy Kenoi
Mayor Charmaine Tavares
Mayor Charmaine Tavares
Ed Teixeira
Ed Teixeira

HAWAII (KHNL) - Tropical storm Felicia is still on track to hit Hawaii in the next 36 hours and the biggest threat from Felicia will be the rain it brings.

The forecast track of this storm has slightly changed course over the past few days. While forecasters still aren't sure exactly where Felicia will hit, they know parts of the islands will get soaked with heavy showers, and even flooding.

"The probably of heavy rain are 80% and higher. We are pretty sure of the rainfall amounts. All the islands could be impacted if not by strong winds, by heavy rains so all the islands need to be prepared for these conditions," said Jim Weyman, Director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center at the National Weather Service.

Forecasters expect some spots to get up to a foot of rain within a 10 to 12 hour time period.

Big Island Civil Defense held another briefing Sunday afternoon, to outline in more detail its emergency strategy. Public Works was pumping out water to make sure the island can absorb as much rain as possible.

"We've decided to keep our schools open tomorrow, Monday. We'll be opening our shelters tomorrow afternoon. That's when we'll start to expect to see a significant effect from Felicia," said Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi after the briefing.

Kenoi says Civil Defense is going to wait for the Monday morning update to determine how many shelters to open on the Big Island.

As for students and teachers, the Department of Education has announced that all public schools will remain open, with the exception of the West Hawaii Explorations Academy and the Kua o Ka La school in Pahoa. Both campuses will be closed Monday.

Education officials will closely monitor the weather situation and provide updates as necessary.

Because of the expected heavy rains and high surf, the County of Hawaii has already implemented some safety measures.

All county beach parks between Whittington Beach Park in Ka'u and Laupahoehoe Beach Park along the Hamakua coast are now closed through Wednesday morning.

Hookena beach park in South Kona is included in the closures.

Residents living along these areas should beware of a sudden surge in surf heights.

Within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, all back country trails and campsites are off limits.

Staff members have decided to close those areas because of the threat of high wind, rain, and waves.

They'll assess the situation once the storm is over to see when they can safely reopen those sections.

On Maui, officials also met Sunday afternoon to firm up emergency plans as the storm nears.

"We're very much on top of it i think and that's why keen on that, even though it is only a tropical storm or tropical depression, we still have to get ready because any time we get any heavy rain we have problems. We're particularly concerned about Molokai because Kalaupapa may be packed into this with heavy rains and wind," said Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

Tavares also said that personnel have been dispatched to Lanai to assist tourists who may need assistance.

Maui County announced late Sunday afternoon the impending closure of all county campgrounds come noon tomorrow.

All county-sponsored recreation programs will also be canceled beginning Monday afternoon and evening.

The closure of county parks will be assessed by officials to determine when they need to be shut down.

Even though the American Red Cross has hundreds of volunteers in place, it is still looking for more help.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact your local Red Cross Chapter, or you can head to their website.You can find a link to it on this website, www.khnl.com.

Meanwhile, State Civil Defense is keeping an eye on the skies. The agency is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to see if Felicia will affect airports and flights.

"There's a lot of activity in the hotel and visitors industry right now, to making sure rooms are available in case a flight gets cancelled so all of that is going on behind the scenes," said Ed Teixeira, State Civil Defense.

State Civil Defense is also coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard to see if the agencies need to redirect ships such as cruiseliners.

Back in Maui County, pending approval from the Department of Education, here is a list if locations that may be used as emergency evacuation shelters beginning at 4 p.m. tomorrow:

They include Baldwin High School and gym, War Memorial gym, Lahaina Civic Center, Eddie Tam gym, Haiku Community Center, Kihei Community Center, and the Hana school gym.

On Molokai: the Molokai High School gym and the Kilohana school.

On Lanai: the Lanai High School gym.