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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Thursday, May 25, 2023

Almost five years ago, Hurricane Lane, a category 5, passed within 150 miles of South Point on Aug. 22, 2018.

 It set the state record for tropical cyclone rainfall (58 inches) and caused over $7 million in damage. 

Image from NOAA’s GOES-West Satellite

EL NINO MAY PUMP UP HAWAI'I HURRICANE SEASON, making Pacific waters warmer, powering conditions for hurricane development and strength. Central Pacific Hurricane Center, on Thursday, predicted four to seven tropical cyclones during the 2023 hurricane season. The cyclones could become tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes and may or may not hit land.
Water raging down Wood Valley Road from the deluge brought
by Ana in October of 2014. Photo by Julia Neal
   The season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30 for the Western Pacific, north of the equator, including Hawai'i between 140 degrees West and the International Date Line.
    Chris Brenchley, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Director of Central Pacific Hurricane Center, held a press conference and pointed out that hurricane season has been "very quiet for quite a few years and that may have lulled us into a sense of complacency." Brenchley predicted a greater than 50% chance for a busier-than-normal season and said, “It’s more important than ever to review your emergency plan and supply kit now, so you will be prepared for the next hurricane threat.”
    The NOAA announcement came the day after Typhoon Mawar battered Guam and the Northern Marianas in the Western Pacific where typhoon season starts earlier, May 15 and lasts until Nov. 30, the same day hurricane season ends in Hawai'i. After lashing Guam, Mawar quickly strengthened on Thursday becoming a Super Typhoon with 175 mph winds, gusting to 210 mph, and headed toward the Philippines. 
    Congressman Ed Case said that the heavy impact of Typhoon Mawar "on our Guam, and Northern
Marianas ‘ohana, drive home yet again that we must assume and fully prepare for similar direct hurricane and other severe storm impacts on Hawai‘i." Case sits on the Subcommittee on Homeland Security with federal funding and oversight authority over FEMA.
    Case noted that as the President designates emergency assistance coordinated by FEMA for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to address Mawar, Hawai'i is involved in Hurricane Preparedness Week to highlight the importance of preparedness by residents throughout these islands. The disaster shelter for Kaʻū is the Robert Herkes Kaʻū District Gym in Pahala, with the Red Cross running this county Parks & Recreation facility when needed.
    The Central Pacific Hurricane Center continuously monitors weather conditions in Hawai'i using satellites, land-and ocean-based sensors and aircraft reconnaissance missions operated by NOAA and its partners. These observations are fed into complex computer models that run on NOAA’s supercomputers. Forecasters at the Center use that information to develop storm track and intensity forecasts and provide critical decision support services to emergency managers at the federal, state and county levels.
    This summer, NOAA will increase its supercomputing capacity by 20%, allowing for more detailed, higher-resolution forecast models, advanced physics and improved data assimilation. Once implemented, the computing system will be able to perform 29 quadrillion calculations per second. The expansion will allow for forecast model upgrades for years to come, starting with United Forecast System's Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System.
    The Central Pacific Hurricane Center will extend the forecast range of the Tropical Weather Outlook from five to seven days this season. The seven-day outlook will provide emergency managers and communities with more time to prepare for tropical activity and creates a seamless suite of products when combined with the two-week Global Tropical Hazards Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.
    Check for watches and warnings on the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s website throughout the season, and visit FEMA’s Ready.gov for additional hurricane preparedness tips.

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TWO SOLAR FARMS PLANNED NEAR  NĀ'ĀLEHU GO TO A PUBLIC MEETING NEXT WEDNESDAY, May 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Community Center. The two shared solar projects for Kaʻū are both accessible from South Point Road. Neither are planned to include battery backup. They are designed to provide solar to more than 200 homes plus businesses and agencies.
    Pivot Energy is sponsor and Arion Energy is owner of the two new projects. A .50MWac Solar PVGeneration Plan covering 15.4 acres would be known as Ka Lae 1 Solar Farm. The address is 93-5570 Kai Makani Place. TMK is 3-9-3-004-040. See website at https://go.pivotenergy.net/ka-lae-shared-solar.
A .50 MWac Solar PV Generation Plant covering 16.09 acres would be known as Ka Lae 2 Solar Farm. The address is 93-2307 South Point Road. TMK is 3-9-3-004-027. See website at https://go.pivotenergy.net/ka-lae2-shared-solar.
    Subscribers to the shared solar, including households, local businesses and organizations would save on their Hawaiian Electric bill. The summary says that the project "brings local jobs and economic benefits, and helps the Island of Hawai'i transition to clean renewable energy. Renewable energy can help increase grid reliability, improve air quality and improve public health."

    The online presentations promise more community outreach as final contracts and construction permitting is sought. The expected date of construction to begin is October of 2023 with completion of solar farms January of 2025.
     Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee's Subcommittee on Solar Farms, Large & Small reported on projects planned in Kaʻū. Included among many questions was the future of the orange trees presently growing on one of the sites that would be removed to make way for the solar panels. The committee also asked for guarantees that the sites would be cleaned up when the 20-year contract is over. 

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SIXTEEN WERE ARRESTED FOR DUI during the week of May 15 through May 21.  Hawai‘i Island police made the arrests for driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Two of the drivers were
involved in a traffic accident. One was under the age of 21. So far this year, there have been 394 DUI arrests compared with 415 during the same period last year, a decrease of 5.1 percent.
    Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section reviewed all updated crashes and found 346 major accidents so far this year compared with 309 during the same period last year, an increase of 12 percent.
    To date, there have been eight fatal crashes, resulting in nine fatalities, one with multiple deaths; compared with 14 fatal crashes, resulting in 16 fatalities one with multiple deaths for the same time last year. This represents a decrease of 42.9 percent for fatal crashes, and 43.8 percent for fatalities.

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