Hawaii floods

Poor weather in Hawaii has wreaked havoc across the archipelago

Photo by Associated Press.

— 2 minute read — by Madi Sutton

The beginning of March saw damaging flash floods and downpours of torrential rain engulfing parts of Hawaii. Maui was the first island to be affected by heavy rainstorms; thousands of residents evacuated their homes after concerns were raised about the Kaupakalua Dam bursting as the reservoir filled with water. The flooding spread north up the chain of Hawaiian Islands to Oahu and Kauai, before moving southward and hitting the Big Island.

The torrential rain led to the destruction of homes and decimated roads and bridges, especially along the east coastline of Oahu. Dozens of homes throughout the Hawaiian Islands were damaged and destroyed, with reports of landslides and power outages only raising the high levels of concern.  

News reports claim the flooding was at a serious level in the Honolulu community in Haleiwa, with the Opaeula stream that flows through the region experiencing rising water levels. This sparked a quick evacuation and led the governor to declare a state of emergency on 9th March, soon after the Department of Emergency Management in Honolulu warned of “potentially catastrophic flooding” within the region.

Most of the extreme rain had subsided by 11th March, but climate scientists say this is just another example of more dramatic weather events that will become increasingly common as the planet warms. The state’s climatologist, Pao-Shin Chu from the University of Hawaii, says these events should make people aware that preparation for more frequent flooding is necessary.

The beginning of the flooding pattern that officials are warning about can be seen though the 2018 Hawaii floods. In this instance, the islands experienced 49 inches of rainfall in a 24 hour period between 14th and 15th April, setting a national record. In the last month, some places reported up to 3 inches of rain per hour, resulting in 20 inches of flooding.

Thankfully, no deaths or injuries were reported because of the harsh weather conditions. Yet scientists have made their warning very clear: if the planet continues to warm at its current rate, events such as these will become commonplace.