Storm downs trees, lifts roofs, rattles residents

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A strong storm system moved over the state Thursday and Friday, bringing with it heavy rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning.

It was at its worst on Oahu close to midnight, with gusty winds taking down trees in several places, including on Kaukonahua Road in Central Oahu, Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park, and Manoa.

One of the trees came down at the Greenwood Condominiums in Salt Lake, where strong winds buffeted the area for 20 or 30 minutes.

"It whipped around this corner, and this tree just collapsed," said condominium site manager Ben Merritt. "It uprooted the sidewalk over.  It took the sprinkler system with it, but it couldnʻt have fallen in a better place."

Thatʻs because the nearly 70-foot tall monkeypod tree fell in the only place where it couldnʻt cause any damage -- a grassy lawn between the apartment building, the swimming pool and the parking lot.

"Iʻm certainly glad it didnʻt fall on the parking lot and damaged 12 to 15 cars. You couldnʻt have professional had it fallen any better," Merritt said.

In Kalihi Kai, Honolulu Fire crews worked to clear what was left of the roof of the Hawaii Pacific Plumbing Supply company on Auiki Street near Mokauea Street. Officials said overnight, gusty winds blew open a large warehouse door, and then were strong enough to lift the roof off. Some 3,000 feet of roof was taken off, with some parts landing several blocks away on Nimitz Highway.

In Iwilei, Ed Morita was on Nimitz Highway at Pacific Street, near Zippyʻs and City Mill, where they had a very close call with a bolt of lightning at around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

"Me and my friend Don, we were in his car," Morita said, "Weʻre parked right here on the corner waiting for the stop light to change. And all of a sudden this bright, like, two flashes came down, like right near the car. We could see it in front of us."

Morita isnʻt sure exactly where the lightning hit, and thinks it may have even struck their car, which lost power momentarily. But it definitely was so close, they could almost taste it.

"I asked, ʻDo you notice if your fillings hurt?ʻ Heʻs like, ʻYeah, they do,ʻ" Morita said, recalling their conversation. "Even now I still have that metallic taste in my mouth."

The driver of the car, Don Aweau, said via Twitter that he also thought that the vehicle had been hit by lightning. "Everything then went black and we rushed out of there!" Aweau said.

Aweau also said they experienced high winds once they got onto the airport viaduct of the H-1 freeway, with rain and debris flying everywhere.

Aweau said the drive was "hairy at times, but got home safely but visibly shaken by the nightʻs events."

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.