High Winds and Flooding Rains December 4-11 2007

A complex storm system developed in the northwest Pacific Ocean and moved southeast toward Hawaii on December 3, 2007. As the system moved southeast, the associated cold front intensified and approached the island chain from the west. Strong southwest winds ahead of the cold front were reported across Kauai and Oahu on the fourth and fifth. Lingering atmospheric instability behind a previous frontal system combined with warm, moist conditions ahead of the cold front lead to extremely heavy rains across the state with Maui and the Big Island receiving the heaviest rains between the sixth and the eighth of December. The storm weakened and drifted northeast toward the end of the period, but a surface trough remained across the state keeping conditions unsettled until roughly December 11. Widespread property damage was reported all across the state during this weather event.

The approach of the front and the strong southwest flow prompted forecasters to issue high wind warnings for parts of Kauai and Oahu. As the front moved down the island chain, additional warnings were issued. Although winds were generally strong across the state, downslope zones of northeast Kauai, central Oahu, windward Oahu, and Molokai saw the highest gusts, in the 60-70 mph range. Very strong winds were also reported at the summits of Haleakala on Maui and the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of approximately 70-80 mph.

Maui and the Big Island experienced the heaviest rainfall during the event. Widespread flooding was common across portions of central and upcountry Maui. Flash flooding in the Waiohuli area of Maui swept a house from its foundation. Two day totals for the period ending at 8:00 am HST Thursday, December 6, 2007 were between ten and twelve inches at the Kapapala Ranch and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Headquarters gauges. Up to two feet of water covered portions of Highway 11 in the Kau district of the Big Island. State wide totals for the same period ranged from one to six inches.

Conditions on the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa deteriorated rapidly during the approach of the front on the fifth of December. High winds and snow showers created white-out conditions on the summits. Snow levels dropped down to around eleven thousand feet. Seven foot snow drifts and icing forced park rangers to shut down the Mauna Kea access road on the fifth. Conditions did not allow for the road to be reopened until the end of the storm period.

Extensive property damage resulted from the event. Roofs were blown off of houses in downslope areas and downed power lines created widespread power outages. Estimates compiled from local authorities placed the damage cost for the event in the area of $3.4 million.

A map of damages resulting from the storm
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Wind Gusts Reported
As of 4:15 pm HST WED DEC 5 2007
StationIslandSpeed
MAKAPULAPAI MOLOKAI 72
SCHOFIELD FB OAHU 70
WHEELER AAF OAHU 68
KAUPO GAP MAUI 67
SCHOFIELD BRKS OAHU 63
WAIANAE HARBOR OAHU 59
MOLOAA DAIRY KAUAI 59
LANAI 1 LANAI 58
KANEOHE MCBH OAHU 58
MAKAHA RIDGE KAUAI 56
LIHUE KAUAI 55
KAHULUI AP MAUI 53
PTA WEST HAWAII 51
PUU WAAWAA HAWAII 51
BELLOWS OAHU 51
KANELOA KAHOOLAWE 51
KII OAHU 49
MAKUA RANGE OAHU 49
DILLINGHAM OAHU 49
HONOKANAIA KAHOOLAWE 49
HONOLULU AP OAHU 48
PORT ALLEN KAUAI 48
KEAHOLE AP HAWAII 47
WAIANAE VALLEY OAHU 46
KAHOOLAWE KAHOOLAWE 46
MOLOKAI AP MOLOKAI 46
KAHUKU TRNG OAHU 46
KALAELOA OAHU 44
KAHUKU OAHU 44
OAHU FOREST NWR OAHU 44
PALI 2 HAWAII 43
MOLOKAI 1 MOLOKAI 43
SCHOFIELD EAST OAHU 41
PTA KIPUKA ALALA HAWAII 41
KAWAIHAE HAWAII 40