UNITED STATES NEWS

Maui officials on standby to stop heavy rains from sending ash into storm drains

Nov 29, 2023, 5:53 PM

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Maui officials were on standby Wednesday to prevent ash from August’s deadly wildfire in Lahaina from flowing into storm drains after forecasters said a winter storm could bring heavy rain and strong winds to the island.

The National Weather Service said rain falling at a rate of more than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) per hour could trigger localized flooding over burn scars in Lahaina and in Kula, a mountainous area where wildfires also spread three months ago.

Maui County said it placed 40 pallets of straw barriers around Lahaina and that 25 staff members were on standby.

Earlier this week, county staff inspected and cleared culverts in flood-prone parts of Kula and South Maui.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for the entire state through Thursday as a kona low, or subtropical cyclone, west of the island chain generated moist and humid conditions.

The weather service warned potentially heavy rainfall and thunderstorms could batter the island chain.

Forecasters said up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) of snow could fall on the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two Big Island mountains that rise 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) above sea level. The peaks often get snow during the winter months.

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Maui officials on standby to stop heavy rains from sending ash into storm drains