East Hawaii Information Update for January 11th, 2020

Updated: Jan 13

Numerous Hazardous Conditions reports of flooding conditions throughout East Hawaii has been reported as a result of winter storm rainfall Saturday (January 11th).


Please Stay Tuned to this post as it will be regularly updated as information becomes available on incidents in East Hawaii.

The Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) along with the Hawaii Police Department (HPD), State Department of Transportation (HDOT), Hawaii County Civil Defense, and Department of Public Works (DPW) responded to numerous reports of Hazardous Conditions and Flooding throughout East Hawaii Saturday (January 11th).


Here is the list of events as they were reported:

  • Prior to Saturday: Bayfront Highway, Pauahi Street, Kamehameha Avenue were closed to all traffic due to flooding conditions.

  • 5:25 am Saturday morning: HPD and HDOT crews responded to reports of a large tree that fell over Highway 19 and blocking both lanes of traffic. HDOT crews worked to clear the large tree and were able to have Highway 19 reopened to all traffic 10:04 am.

  • 10:24 am Saturday morning: HFD, Civil Defense, and DPW crews responded to investigate a hazardous condition at the Pi'ihonua Bridge. Upon the arrival of crews, residences reported heavy runoff and ponding was occurring in the vicinity of the bridge and also reported extremely higher than normal river/water levels of the Wailuku River near Pi'ihonua Falls. Residences along the Wailuku River corridor were put on notice of the possibility for evacuation should river levels continue to rise. Wailuku River Gauge peaked at 16.9-feet at 11:00 am.

  • 7:35 pm Saturday evening: National Weather Service was reported

  • 8:00 pm Saturday evening: HFD, CD, and DPW crews responded to reports of flooding in residence on Wainuenue Avenue near the Pi'ihonua Bridge. Upon further investigation and contact with residence/occupant, they refused or declined to any further emergency assistance and were sheltering in place and were taking necessary precautions to protect life and property from flooding.

  • 8:05 pm Saturday evening: Civil Defense opened the Afook-Chinen Auditorium - Bulter Building as an emergency shelter for those who wanted to evacuate as a result of flooding conditions. The shelter was being manned by County of Hawaii employees and volunteers from the American Red Cross were put on stand-by should their assistance be needed for damage assessments.

  • 8:25 pm Saturday evening: HPD and HDOT received a report of heavy runoff and also rocks and boulders on the roadway between the 9 to 12-mile marker on Daniel K. Inouye Highway (or Saddle Road) in the South Hilo District. HDOT crews were en-route to the scene to begin to clean up and removal of rocks from the highway.

  • 8:35 pm Saturday evening: HPD and HDOT received a report of a large tree down between the 21 to the 22-mile marker on Highway 11 in Puna.

  • 9:00 pm Saturday evening: Daniel K. Inouye Highway (or Saddle Road) has been closed to all traffic due to heavy runoff and boulders on the roadway. HDOT were en-route to begin assessment and clearing roadway. NO ETA was given when the road will reopen and all motorists are being asked to avoid the area. The closure was being extended to the West Hawaii side of Saddle Road at the Waiki'i junction to prevent traffic from continuing.

  • 9:10 pm Saturday evening: Highway 11 between the 56 to the 62-mile marker is closed to all traffic due to flooding and heavy ponding in the area of Kawa Flats. No alternate routes at this time.

  • 9:30 pm Saturday evening: HECO, Hawaiian Telcom, Spectrum, and other phone carriers/utility companies reports no outages as of 9:30 pm Saturday evening.

  • 9:44 pm Saturday evening: HPD and HFD responding to report of a single-vehicle collision on Highway 11 near the 15-mile marker in Mountain View. The vehicle ran off the roadway and no update on injuries was given.

  • 9:45 pm Saturday evening: HPD and HDOT report landslide had occurred on Highway 19 (Mamalahoa Highway/Hamakua Way) at the 25 and 26-mile marker in Laupahoehoe at the Laupahoehoe Gulch. One lane is closed and HDOT crews were also en-route to begin work to clear the scene. No alternate route.

  • 10:00 pm Saturday evening: HIRSC Moderator who drove on Highway 19 from Hilo to Kailua-Kona reported heavy runoff, waterfalls on cliff facings over the highway, and ponding on parts of the Hamakua route and numerous motorists were driving below the speed limit due to the hazardous conditions present. A moderate landslide had occurred at Laupahoehoe Gulch and HPD officers were directing traffic until HDOT crews could begin assessment and clearing roadway.

  • 10:25 pm Saturday evening: NWS has extended the Flash Flood Warning for East Hawaii districts until 1:30 am Sunday morning (January 12th). Rain was falling at rates of 2-3+ inches per hour in some gauges above the South Hilo District.

  • 10:30 pm Saturday evening: Winter Storm Warning for the summits of Maunakea and Mauna Loa remains in effect until 6:00 pm Sunday evening (January 12th). Blizzard like conditions is occurring at the summit. New snowfall accumulation rates up to 8-inches are expected through Sunday.

  • 10:35 pm Saturday evening: Heavy Runoff and Flooding on Saddle Road is occurring between the 9 to 18-mile markers. Motorist were reported to be turning around and some are waiting it out at Pu'uhuluhulu or heading directing back to West Hawaii.

  • 10:55 pm Saturday evening: HPD officers were working to turn around all traffic on Saddle Road (Daniel K. Inouye Highway) and closing from Old Saddle Road and Highway 190 (To warn cars coming from Kona).

  • 11:15 pm Saturday evening: HPD received a report of a palm tree fell onto a parked car at Waiakea Villas. No further details were given.

Events from Sunday, January 12th, 2020:


  • 12:15 am Sunday morning: HFD and HPD responding to investigate a report of a School Bus stalled inside floodwaters at Kawa Flats. One person on board and awaiting the arrival of HFD crews and rescue personnel.

  • 12:17 am Sunday morning: HPD responding to investigate a single-vehicle collision involving a cow on Highway 19 at 6-mile marker. The vehicle is on the roadway and no injuries. The cow was slightly injured and was sitting down on the side of the road.

  • 12:40 am Sunday morning: HFD crews made contact with the bus driver (the only person onboard the bus) and brought her back to the Na'alehu Side of Kawa Flats. Reports no injuries, just shaken up. The bus remains on Highway 11 stalled and requiring removal by a tow truck from the floodwaters.

  • 12:55 am Sunday morning: HPD and HDOT crews report all of the debris from an earlier landslide at Laupahoehoe Gulch has been cleared and all lanes are now open.

  • 1:10 am Sunday morning: NWS has extended the Flash Flood Warning for East Hawaii until 4:30 am Sunday morning. Rain continues to fall at rates of 2-3+ inches per hour on the slopes above Hilo and Puna. Winter Storm Warning remains also in effect until Sunday evening. New snowfall accumulations could amount to 8-inches.

  • 1:30 am Sunday morning: The following road closures remain in effect: Highway 200 from Hilo to Old Saddle Road junction remains closed until further notice, Highway 11 at Kawa Flats (56 to 62-mile markers) is also closed until further notice due to flooding and heavy ponding on the highway, and Bayfront Highway/Pauahi Street/Kamehameha Avenue all remain closed due to heavy ponding and runoff from the Alenaio River. All motorists needing to make cross-island trips must use Highway 19 (Hamakua way/route).

  • 3:14 am Sunday morning: HFD and HPD received a 911 call for a report of 2 people trapped and on the roof of a 2014 Honda CRV in floodwaters on Apele Road & Kahikopele Street intersection in Mountain View.

  • 4:00 am Sunday morning: NWS extended the Flash Flood Warning for East Hawaii Districts once again until 10:30 am Sunday morning. Rain in some gauges in East Hawaii is falling at rates of 2-3 inches per hour.

  • 5:01 am Sunday morning: HFD and HPD crews responded to a report of a motor vehicle accident on Highway 19 near the 47-mile marker in Honokaia. Also, received a report of a fallen tree over Highway 19 - Hamakua side of Camp Honokaia. Resources from Honoka'a and Waimea responded to the scene. HDOT were en-route to begin removal of the tree. Old Mamalahoa Highway was given as an alternative.

  • 6:00 am Sunday morning: The following road closures remain in effect: Highway 200 from Hilo to Old Saddle Road junction remains closed until further notice, Highway 11 at Kawa Flats (56 to 62-mile markers), Mauna Loa Drive, South Kopua Road and Kahikopele Street is also closed until further notice due to flooding and heavy ponding on the highway, and Bayfront Highway/Pauahi Street/Kamehameha Avenue all remain closed due to heavy ponding and runoff from the Alenaio River. All motorists needing to make cross-island trips must use Highway 19 (Hamakua way/route).

  • 8:00 am Sunday morning: Civil Defense received numerous reports of flooding and heavy ponding on roadways in subdivisions throughout Puna. No specific streets were given. Also, Wood Valley Road in Ka'u was reported to be closed to traffic due to flooding.

  • 9:10 am Sunday morning: HPD reports one lane of Highway 19 is now open and HDOT crews were contra-flowing traffic using the one lane.

  • 10:05 am Sunday morning: HPD reports all lanes of Highway 19 is now open to all traffic.

  • 10:30 am Sunday morning: NWS has once again extended the Flash Flood Warning for East Hawaii Districts until 1:30 pm Sunday afternoon. Rain in some gauges was falling at rates of 2-3 inches per hour, mainly at the higher elevations. Some lower elevation gauges recorded rain falling at 1-2 inches per hour.

  • 10:35 am Sunday morning: HIRSC Moderating and Administration Team who were on roadways in South, East, and North Hawaii earlier report the following observations: In Ka'u, Ka'alaiki Road had floodwaters crossing the roadway approximately 2 miles above Punalu'u Bakery. Not raining in many parts of Ka'u, however, heavy rains were happening at the higher elevations. In Puna, Heavy Ponding and Runoff on Highway 11 at Mauna Loa Drive and also at the 20-mile marker in Glenwood. Numerous pockets and area were flooding throughout subdivisions from Upper and Lower Puna were noted and observed when driving through those areas. In Hamakua, Minor to Moderate ponding along the side of Highway 19 in sporadic areas between Honoka'a and Hilo, still passable and traffic was moving freely. Moderate to heavy rain in some parts of Highway 19 along the Hamakua corridor. In South Kohala, Waikoloa Stream is flowing, however, no overflowing any roadways. Numerous culverts and gulches along the Kawaihae Road, Kohala Mountain Road, and Highway 19 are flowing due to rainfall occurring in the Kohala Mountain area. On and off rain was happening throughout North Hawaii.

  • 11:18 am Sunday morning: HFD and HPD responded to reports of a single-vehicle accident on Old Saddle Road in the area of the 46-mile marker above Waiki'i Ranch.

  • 11:50 am Sunday morning: Department of Public Safety (HDPS) has canceled Sunday visitation at Kulani Correctional Facility due to the poor weather conditions in East Hawaii. All other facilities were still holding visitations.

  • 12:55 pm Sunday afternoon: Single vehicle accident occurred on Silversword Court and Ainaloa Boulevard. The vehicle collided into a telephone pole. One injury reported and HFD was en-route to evaluate injuries.

  • 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon: HPD and HDOT report Saddle Road is now open to all traffic, the hazardous conditions reported earlier has since been cleared.

  • 1:23 pm Sunday afternoon: Once again, NWS has extended the Flash Flood Warning for East Hawaii Districts until 4:30 pm Sunday afternoon.

  • 3:00 pm Sunday afternoon: HIRSC - Hawaii Island Team provided this observation report and update around Hawaii Island:

  1. For Ka'u - Highway 11 at Kawa Flats remains closed due to high floodwaters of up to 3 feet in the area. Ka'alaiki Road about 2-miles above Punalu'u Bakery remains flooded with water crossing the road, however, it has since decreased over the last few hours.

  2. For Puna - Numerous roadways and streets in the Orchidland, Ainaloa, Eden Roc, Hawaiian Acres, Fern Acres, and parts of Hawaiian Paradise Park are reported to be flooded or have heavy ponding on the roadway. Some residence yards are completed flooded and were taking precautions to prevent flooding into their homes.

  3. For South Hilo - the Bayfront area remains under at least 1 to 2-feet of water at this time with debris scattered throughout the area. Heavy runoff from the Alenaio Stream continues to flood the area. In the area of the Suisan Fish Market, numerous logs have collected in the area of the bridge and small boat ramp to Wailoa Pond. A sailboat the broke from its mooring is resting upon logs gathered near the bridge, didn't appear to be damaged but other mariners were trying to make contact with the owner to advise them of their findings. Wailuku River continues to remain elevated, however, levels have significantly dropped from its peak yesterday. Rainbow Falls (Waianuenue Falls), Boiling Pots (Pe'epe'e Falls), Pi'ihonua Falls, and Akaka Falls was a raging river and was extremely elevated. Umauma Falls was also noted as a raging river. A lot of brown water was observed throughout the Hilo Coastline. Saddle Road reopened, however, conditions were poor for driving; heavy fog and moderate rain in the area between 9-mile marker to Gilbert Kahele Recreational Area (Maunakea Park).

  4. For North Hilo and Hamakua Coast - Minor to Moderate ponding along Highway 19 between Papaikou and Honokaia (Boy Scout Camp). Rivers and gulches were flowing at elevated levels. A lot of small branches had fallen along Highway 19, however, they were easily cleared and moved off the roadway by bystanders. Conditions were slowly improving as you head up the Hamakua Coast to Waimea. Light to moderate fog was observed in the corridor between Honokaia to Lakeland subdivision in Kamuela.

  5. For North Hawaii (South and North Kohala Districts including Saddle area) - Conditions on Highway 200 were poor all the way to the junction with Highway 190 on the new section. Light to moderate showers reported along Highway 190 (Mamalahoa Highway) from Saddle Road junction to Waimea. Numerous streams and gulches were also flowing all the way down to Kawaihae Road. Area of watch or concern is the recent brush fire area in Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Area, as heavy runoff and damage are possible if heavy rains were to happen in the Kawaihae area. Some Brown Water was observed near Kauna'oa bay (Mauna Kea Resort) and Mau'umae Beach near Spencer Beach Park. Moderate to Heavy rain was noted in areas between Upolu Point to Polulu Valley and also parts of Kohala Mountain Road. Some streams and rivers along Kohala Mountain Road and Akoni Pule Highway were flowing but not at elevated levels.

  6. For West Hawaii (North and South Kona Districts) - Conditions from Pu'uanahulu area to Keauhou were on and off rain, showers were moderate in some areas, mainly in the upper elevations. Minor to Moderate ponding on Ali'i Drive was seen in the Kailua Village area with businesses in the area had flood protection barriers setup should conditions worsen. Wai'aha Stream remains dry and not flowing. Some ponding was seen along Highway 180 from the Palani Junction to Keauhou Mauka, however, traffic was still flowing. Moderate rain was reported from Kealakekua to Honaunau. No streams or gulches were seen flowing. Rain again picks up as you head towards Kona Paradise to Ka'u. Light to Moderate showers was observed in the area.

  7. For Mauna Loa, Maunakea/Hale Pohaku area - Conditions are very poor in the area near Hale Pohaku and rain was falling at very heavy rates when in the area. A short break in the clouds showed a very heavily blanketed Maunakea and snow appears to be above the 11,500 to 12,000-foot elevation. Maunakea Access Road/John A. Burns Way is closed to all traffic due to Blizzard-Like conditions at the summit. A slight break in the clouds near Mauna Loa showed a snow-blanketed summit. The snow appears to be at the about the 12,000-foot elevation, not access by any vehicle from Saddle Road, higher up from the observation center on the Northwest slope. So do not rush to see the snow, not accessible by any vehicle.

  • 4:05 pm Sunday afternoon: HFD and HPD responding to reports of a single-vehicle rollover on Mauna Lani Drive at the intersection of Pauoa Road in the Mauna Lani Resort area. Report of a Toyota 4Runner rolled-over and driver had self-extricated.

  • 4:30 pm Sunday afternoon: NWS has once again extended the Flash Flood Warning until 7:30 pm.

  • 6:45 pm Sunday Evening: HPD received reports of a turtle found floating down the roadway in Ka'u. The humane society called to take custody of the turtle.

  • 7:05 pm Sunday evening: NWS has once again extended the Flash Flood Warning until 10:15 pm.

  • 7:30 pm Sunday evening: Highway 11 in all areas including Kawa Flats is now open to traffic.

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