Big Island Weathers Tropical Storm Darby

Jul 25, 2016

The Spirit of Kona ran aground by the King Kamehameha Hotel,
Credit US Coast Guard

Tropical Storm Darby rumbled ashore Saturday afternoon on Hawaii Island. Sustained winds were 40 miles an hour, but gusts were higher--and the impacts began before the storm ever hit land. HPR's Sherry Bracken has an update from Kona.

The Puna, Ka'ū, Hāmākua, and Kohala Districts had the heaviest rain and wind from Tropical Storm Darby.  Hawai'i County Civil Defense Administrator Ed Teixeira expected the Ka'ū district would be the first to feel the impact.  “We knew Kawa Flats would be a problem, we knew the gulches along Hāmākua Coast would be a problem, DOT closed Umaumau Bridge.  The highest winds reported was at Kohala Ranch... it was about 61 miles per hour... Kawaihae also had a spot in the 50s or low 60s."

Hawai'i Electric Light Company has spent more than $14 million dollars removing 94,000 trees that caused thousands of customers to be without power for up to 3 weeks after 2014's Tropical Storm Iselle.   Even so, there were some outages during Darby. Ed Teixeira said “trees were knocked into power poles… at the height we had 3400 customers without power."

Texeira said as of Sunday, most customers had power restored.   He also said fewer than 200 people used the County's emergency shelters.  Yesterday, Hawai'i County Civil Defense dispatched 17 damage assessment teams to review the hardest hit areas.   The County and State are inspecting all their facilities, as required anytime there is a Mayoral Emergency Declaration.  And the 70-foot boat Spirit of Kona ran aground by the King Kamehameha Hotel overnight Saturday, and DLNR and the Coast Guard are addressing oil and fuel cleanup.  Texeira said he was especially pleased with the public's response.