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Winter storm brings thunder, hail and power outages

tree fallen on house
Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation
In this photo provided by the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation, a tree lays toppled by a winter storm in Mililani on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. A strong winter storm downed trees, knocked out power, and dropped snow on the Big Island's tallest mountains as it moved across the Hawaiian Islands. (Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation via AP)

HONOLULU — A strong winter storm downed trees, knocked out power and flooded soccer fields as it moved across the Hawaiian Islands. Snow fell on the Big Island's tallest peaks.

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Rozanski said Tuesday that the weather is typical of the kind of storm Hawaiʻi occasionally gets in December and January. He called these storms “infrequent but not unusual.”

The cold front came in from the northwest, delivering thunderstorms, powerful wind gusts and high surf. Some residents reported pea-sized hail, which Rozanski said was to be expected during a storm of this kind.

Honolulu received dozens of calls about downed trees and branches. The county's parks department closed Waipiʻo's soccer fields because they were saturated.

A power outage forced the closure of the Wailuku courthouse. That prompted Hawaiʻi Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald to order the rescheduling of hearings, trials and filing deadlines on Maui.

Talmadge Magno, the director of Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency, said that downed trees and flooding have blocked some roads.

Snow fell on Maunakea and Maunaloa, including where a vent was spewing lava only a few weeks ago as Maunaloa erupted for the first time in 38 years. Winter snow on these mountains is not uncommon at high elevations. Maunakea rises to 13,803 feet (4,207 meters), and Maunaloa is 13,679 feet (4,169 m).

The storm was still battering the Big Island as it moved east on Tuesday. Magno said his agency expects to report the extent of the storm damage to the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency on Friday.

The cold front is separate from another storm that started hitting the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday and that's expected to move to the northern Rockies, Plains and Midwest.

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