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State prepares for heavy rain, Kona low weather system

FILE - People hold umbrellas as it begins to rain on an otherwise empty beach in Honolulu on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.
Caleb Jones
FILE - People hold umbrellas as it begins to rain on an otherwise empty beach in Honolulu on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.

The National Weather System issued an official flood watch across the state on Thursday morning, predicting heavy rain into the weekend as a Kona low approaches the eastern Hawaiian Islands.

Several state agencies have already begun to prepare for the storm by closing roads and informing citizens of the potential hazards that could occur from flooding.

Weather officials are warning of a Kona low — a term to describe subtropical cyclones in Hawaiʻi. The last time a Kona low occurred was in December 2021, when strong thunderstorms knocked down powerlines and flooded major freeways on Oʻahu.

Hawaiʻi Island mayor Mitch Roth signed an emergency proclamation Thursday morning ahead of the heavy rainfall. The proclamation will allow the island to bypass certain steps in place that would otherwise inhibit response times during an emergency.

Hawaiʻi Island is expected to experience the storm's effects starting Thursday afternoon, with predictions of about 20 inches of rainfall.

“We signed an emergency proclamation this morning so that we can guarantee every resource necessary to ensure the safety of our community in the event of severe impacts from the impending storm,” said Mayor Mitch Roth in his statement Thursday.

NWS also predicts periods of heavy snow, about two to four feet, atop Maunakea and Maunaloa — making travel to the summit "extremely dangerous."

While the storm is projected to pose greater threats to the eastern parts of Hawaiʻi Island and Maui, other counties are keeping their eye out for emergencies as well.

The County of Kauaʻi advised community members to make emergency preparedness kits with a 14-day supply of food and water. They ask that all needed medications be set aside for emergencies, including a copy of prescriptions in case they run out.

Power outages on Kauaʻi can be tracked and reported through the Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative's website.

On Oʻahu, utility work along Kailua's Oneawa St. has been canceled and rescheduled in preparation for the storm. Additionally, a performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band that was scheduled on ʻIolani Palace grounds will move inside Honolulu Hale on Friday.

For more information on the latest weather, click here.

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