Rare Severe Weather Event Strikes Hawaii

A low aloft over the Hawaiian Islands was responsible for bringing rare severe weather Monday afternoon. The storms produced small hail, flash flooding, and even multiple water spouts. Along with the frequent lightning, flash flooding was an issue with some areas receiving over 3 inches of rain in a 12-hour period. On the Big Island, Highway 190 south of Kamuela, was temporarily closed due to water and debris crossing the road.

This same storm prompted winter weather advisories for Mouna Kea and Mauna Loa (above 8,000 feet) where snow, freezing drizzle, and fog have created dangerous driving conditions in the mountains. Snow accumulations of 1-3 inches are possible by Wednesday morning. The low that caused this severe weather is slowly weakening and moving off to the southeast. As it does so, an area of high pressure will build in from the northeast, bringing an end to any severe weather threat. (AccuWeather)

A Large Waterspout, A So-Called Tornado on Water, Hit Off the Coast off Honolulu, Hawaii on May 2. Hawaii saw some extreme weather on May 2, 2011 with heavy wind and rain hitting several islands.

Hawaii experienced a tornado or waterspout. Waterspouts are funnel clouds that touch on water and connect to a cumuliform cloud, essentially a tornado on water. Waterspouts often develop around thunderstorms. One such waterspout showed up near Honolulu. There were no reports of any injuries caused by the Hawaii 'tornado.' (NowPublic)

Waterspouts, tornadoes that touch on water, are not themselves made of water; they are funnel clouds that shoot down from storm clouds. This "tornado on water" touched down over the ocean off Ala Moana, a district of Honolulu. In areas where intense funnel clouds commonly form over water — the Florida Keys and the Adriatic Sea are two examples — waterspouts will frequently form along a line of developing thunderstorms.

That was the case yesterday, as an intense lightning storm with heavy rains knocked out power for 60,000 residents, according to the Hawaiian Reporter. The heavy rains soaked Honolulu and triggered a flash flood warning.

A similarly unusual weather event was also seen in the Bay Area earlier this year. Waterspouts rarely cause damage, so they usually aren't rated on the Enhanced Fujita tornado damage scale.

Most of the Earth's tornadoes touch down in the area of the United States known as Tornado Alley, bordered by the Dakotas to the north, the Gulf Coast to the south, the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Appalachian Mountains to the east. Southeast of Tornado Alley is Dixie Alley, home to the deadliest tornadoes. In these areas, warm, moist Gulf of Mexico air collides with cool, northern air in the spring. But tornadoes can occur elsewhere and at other times of the year, including tornadoes in winter.

In Hawaii and California, which have different weather patterns than those in Tornado Alley, waterspouts or tornadoes are typically formed as instability in the atmosphere along a cold front meets channelized winds to generate swirling storms. (MSNBC)

Water spout, or tornado over water, that caused quite a commotion on the south shore of Oahu as it was observed just off of Ala Moana Beach Park, Kaka’ako Beach Park and the Honolulu Harbor for a reported 30 minutes. The south shore observed hard pounding downpour as flooding was almost immediate around waikiki and downtown Honolulu.

The water spout is a funnel of water the pulls up from the ocean just like a tornado would on land, pulling debris and earth along with it. It was quite a sight as traffic stopped, people jumped out in the rain and snapped video’s and pictures of something not often observed in Hawaii. That and all the lightning which is also rare in the islands. (AlohaUpdate)



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