Destructive winter storm leaves behind a big mess on Oahu, Kauai

Published: Dec. 26, 2019 at 6:33 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A destructive winter storm battered Oahu and Kauai on Christmas Day, triggering widespread power outages, downing trees and power lines, and keeping first responders busy through the early evening handling everything from blown roofs to car crashes.

Over the course of the day, power was cut to more than 18,000 customers. Those numbers were significantly reduced as the storm let up and crews were able to repair damage.

Click here to track Oahu’s outages. Click here to track Kauai’s outages.

Meanwhile, the heavy rains caused a rockslide on Pali Highway, forcing the closure of the Kailua-bound lanes. And Honolulu Fire Department said it had responded to 27 downed trees by Wednesday afternoon, seven downed power lines and seven blown roofs on Oahu.

The conditions also made for treacherous driving at times — and was blamed for more than few crashes. Police closed the H-1 westbound at the Managers Driver overpass on Wednesday afternoon after reporting multiple traffic accidents in the area. All lanes have since reopened.

Forecasters said the strongest gusts from the storm on Oahu topped 72 mph. Honolulu saw gusts to 38 mph, while gusts of 48 mph were recorded in Kaneohe.

There were also drenching rains, especially on Kauai.

Overnight, heavy rains flooded the historic Waimea Theater and damaged Hanapepe Swinging Bridge.

According to rain gauges, Mount Waialeale received nearly 21 inches of rain in the 24-hour period that ended at 7 a.m. Wednesday. Another gauge at the North Wailua Ditch recorded 11 inches.

Back on Oahu, it was the winds that were caused the most havoc.

One tree in Kaimuki that was toppled was said to be at least 60 years old. It was no match for the strong winds, however. Strong winds snapped a large part off, startling nearby residents.

[Read more: LIST: Strongest Christmas storm peak winds around the state]

[Read more: PHOTOS: Christmas Day wild weather on Oahu and Kauai]

“We were just enjoying our favorite Christmas tradition, morning bagels with lox, and we heard this huge crack outside,” said resident Zak Barry.

“We looked out and sure enough, this tree that I grew up climbing in had cracked.”

Winds were even stronger in Windward Oahu, where broken tree branches were everywhere.

The Perreira family in Ahuimanu spent part of their holiday getting soaked in heavy rain and strong winds while sharing the Christmas spirit by helping a neighbor clear a large tree from their driveway.

The Perreiras’ neighborhood was also one of those without power for much of the morning.

“We just got the power back on and we came out here and cut trees,” said John Perreira. “We were out of power for about two and a half hours.”

The heaviest rainfall was clearing Kauai on Wednesday morning.

Oahu saw heavier rain during the midday hours. The front was making its way to Molokai by evening, but was expected to gradually weaken as it continued eastward.

The Big Island could get a few showers from residual moisture as the frontal boundary dissipates and more normal trade winds return.

Click here for the latest weather forecast.

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