NEWS RELEASE: Soaking Rains on Soggy Ground Increase Risk, Need for Preparedness

Posted on Feb 16, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU — Another “kona low” storm system is moving north of Hawai‘i, bringing a risk of heavy rain. But unlike the storms that struck the islands in December, this time the rains will be falling on soil that’s already wet and saturated, increasing the risk of flooding, landslides and downed trees.

“Wet ground makes flooding happen faster and it increases the chance of winds shoving trees into electrical lines, knocking out the power,” said James Barros, administrator of the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA). “We’re urging residents and visitors across the islands to prepare for potentially hazardous conditions in the next several days.”

The National Weather Service has issued a statewide Flood Watch until 6 p.m. Saturday. Rain was already falling Thursday afternoon across much of the Big Island and eastern Maui, with sometimes-heavy rain expected to spread farther westward this evening toward Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

Some models project that the storm system could produce as much as 20 inches of rain over some areas of the Big Island where the ground is already wet, which makes landslides in steep terrain and flooding a risk, Barros said.

HI-EMA and all four county emergency management agencies have partially activated their Emergency Operations Centers to monitor conditions and coordinate resources as needed. HI-EMA urges residents and visitors to “know your hazards” and monitor conditions to protect their safety and property.

Sources of reliable information include NOAA Weather radio and the emergency alert notification networks for each of Hawaii’s counties. Links to sign up for County alerts are available on the HI-EMA website at this link:

Here are some additional tips in the event severe weather threatens:

  • Listen to local authorities for trustworthy emergency information.
  • Do not cross fast-flowing water in your vehicle or on foot – Turn around, don’t drown!
  • Do not go near downed power lines – assume they are still energized and that the ground around them may also be dangerous.
  • Ensure that you have supplies to shelter at home if necessary. In Hawai‘i, we recommend 14 days of supplies to be “Two Weeks Ready” in the event an emergency cuts you off from immediate assistance, but even a few days of food, water, and medication is better than none.
  • With the risk of power outages, make sure you have batteries or candles, and shelf-stable food you can eat without cooking
  • Make a plan in case flooding or property damage makes it unsafe to stay in your home, work, or other location. Identify an escape route, a place to meet if family members get separated, and a point of contact in another area to connect with if local communication systems fail.
  • Pack a “go kit” with items you would need if you have to relocate in a hurry, such as food, water, a flashlight, a battery-powered or crank-charged radio, etc. Learn more about go kits here:


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Adam Weintraub
Communication Director
[email protected]