Aerial view of flooding in a neighborhodd on the island of Kauai in April 2018. Floodwaters on the Hawaiian island of Kauai turned orange, a sign of the high iron content in the volcanic soil. Photo: Brandon Verdura / Associated Press

By Heidi Chang
28 April 2018

(Los Angeles Times) – Since the 1940s, the Hawaiian island of Kauai has endured two tsunamis and two hurricanes, but locals say they have never experienced anything like the thunderstorm that drenched the island this month.

"The rain gauge in Hanalei broke at 28 inches within 24 hours," said state Rep. Nadine Nakamura of the North Shore community. "In a neighboring valley, their rain gauge showed 44 inches within 24 hours. It's off the charts."

Actually, it was even worse. This week the National Weather Service said nearly 50 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

Now, as Kauai continues to recover, scientists warn that this deluge on April 14 and 15 was something new — the first major storm in Hawaii linked to climate change.

"The flooding on Kauai is consistent with an extreme rainfall that comes with a warmer atmosphere," said Chip Fletcher, a leading expert on the impact of climate change on Pacific island communities.

He noted that the intense rainfall not only triggered landslides, it also caused the Hanalei River to flood and carve a new path through Hanalei. Homes, cars, and animals were swept away in raging waters, but no residents or visitors died. Some were airlifted to safety or rescued by boat.

Members of a bison herd were displaced or carried off by floodwaters, and some were rescued from the ocean after swimming for their lives. "Poor buffalo," said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, who saw video and photos of the animals roaming around businesses and neighborhoods. […]

"Just recognize that we're moving into a new climate, and our communities are scaled and built for a climate that no longer exists," said Fletcher, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Kawika Winter, a natural resource manager, put the storm in perspective.

"This is the most severe rain event [in Hawaii] that we know about since records started being kept in 1905," Winter said as he was about to catch a boat from Hanalei to join recovery efforts in Haena. "We're the most remote community on the North Shore, which is why being cut off is extremely devastating." [more]

A Hawaiian island got about 50 inches of rain in 24 hours. Scientists warn it's a sign of the future

3 comments :

  1. Dennis Mitchell said...

    Ready for another year of freak fires and once in a thousand year storms?  

  2. robert bonacci said...

    Yep... #1decadeleft  

  3. Anonymous said...

    I said this many times - it will take THOUSANDS of lost lives before government and industry FINALLY respond (to riots) and public pressure to act decisively on climate change. But of course, it will be too late then. Which it already is. But we COULD make the transition to "climate chaos" much EASIER if we still acted NOW.

    But we won't. So we will go on "documenting" the Despair.

    Keep it up. I still can't bring myself to write about this any more. ~SA~  

 

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