Police Investigate Kapoho Woman’s Death

From the Hawaii Police Department:

Hawai?i Island police have initiated a murder investigation in connection with the discovery of a woman’s body on her Puna property.

On Tuesday evening (August 25), Puna District officers responded to reports of a disturbance on Kaphoho Kai Drive. Investigation led to the discovery of a woman’s body, outside her home, with suspicious injuries.

The victim has been identified as 63-year-old Nadean Rutledge of P?hoa.
Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section are actively investigating the case. They have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone with any information about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Detective Grant Todd at 961-2255.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Five Local Nurseries Pass the “Plant Pono” Test

Six retail nurseries on the Big Island are the latest to receive an endorsement for their commitment to preventing the spread of invasive species. The Plant Pono program, a state wide initiative being implemented on Hawai’i island by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC), recognizes nurseries who implement best practices for control of certain pests and who agree not to import, sell or propagate any potentially invasive plant species.
“I really want to improve the land and beautify it, not cause damage with invasive plants and animals [like] little fire ant and coqui,” says Jacque Green, owner of Green’s Garden Gifts and Things. Her nursery is one of the latest to have earned the Plant Pono endorsement, along with ESP Nursery, Nui Loa Hiki nursery, Sustainable Bioresources, Tropical Edibles, and Pana’ewa Foliage. They joined The Nursery, Inc., Southern Turf, Kalaoa Gardens, and South Kona Nursery, which were the first Big Island businesses to receive endorsements in early 2015.
To maintain the endorsement, nurseries must undergo annual surveys by BIISC early detection specialists and implement stringent prevention measures against invasive pests developed by the Hawaii Ant Lab and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawaii. Nurseries can play a critical role in preventing the spread of pest plants and animals. Invasive species are defined as introduced organisms that cause harm to the economy, environment, or human health. Worldwide, 10–?15% of introduced species become invasive. Many invasive plants, such as miconia and Himalayan (kahili) ginger, were originally introduced as ornamentals and spread through planting by garden enthusiasts before expanding into natural areas and disrupting native ecosystems.
Potted plants were identified as one of the top vectors in the spread of Little Fire Ant, which have cost millions for government and businesses in Hawai’i since they were first detected on the Big Island in 1999. Subsequent surveys completed in 2002 revealed populations of LFA from Kalapana to Laupahoehoe, indicating the ants were already present and well spread across the Puna and Hilo areas before they were noticed.
“Getting nurseries involved in detecting and preventing the spread of pest animals and plants just makes sense,” according to Jimmy Parker, botanist and coordinator of BIISC’s early detection team. “Very often we find that invasive plants are sold unknowingly by nurseries and then planted by well–?meaning citizens and landscapers. A Plant Pono endorsement lets the public know the plants they have purchased will not become the next albizia or miconia.”
The likelihood of a plant being invasive in Hawaii can be predicted accurately thanks to an online assessment tool called the Hawaii Pacific Weed Risk Assessment (HPWRA). HPWRA was developed by botanists from Hawaii and around the globe, and uses 49 questions about a plant’s biology, ecology, and weedy tendencies elsewhere in the world to score its potential invasive threat. HPWRA is 95% accurate in identifying invasive plants. More than a thousand plants have already been assessed and can be viewed on the website, which also suggests safe alternatives to invasive ornamentals. While the Plant Pono program reserves the endorsement for exemplary nurseries, the risk assessment tool is free and available on www.PlantPono.org to any nursery or home gardener considering adding a new plant to their collection. The Plant Pono program was initiated in 2014 by the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) and is funded through the Hawaii Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service.
Contact information for all Plant Pono nurseries is available on the BIISC website at www.BIISC.org.

Pahoa Pantry Seeks Donations through Foodland’s “Give Aloha” Fundraiser

From Jen McGeehan

“Give Aloha”, an annual statewide September fundraiser in honor of Foodland founder Maurice J. (Sully) Sullivan, is slated for September 1 – 30. All Foodland, Sack N Save and Foodland Farms locations offer their Makai card customers the opportunity to donate to their favorite participating 501c3 non-profit. A portion of their donation will be matched by Foodland and Western Union Foundation up to a total of at least $300,000 for all organizations combined.

The newly resurrected Pahoa Pantry and Soup Kitchen, under the guidance of New Hope Puna, is participating in the 2015 Give Aloha Program. Supporters can visit any Foodland, Sack N Save or Foodland Farms statewide, and make a donation or cumulative donations of up to $249.00. Each checkout clerk will make sure the donation is deposited using the designated code number of 78821. And, all donations are tax-deductible!

Thomas Manago, Director for the Pahoa Pantry and Soup Kitchen, shares, “On average, approximately 900 meals are served per month to the residents of Mountain View, Kea’au through Kalapana. They are sustained solely through individual, corporate and fundraisng dollars. Hawaii Island Food Basket serves as one of our major suppliers of USDA meats, rice, canned goods and occasionally fresh produce, with thousands of pounds of food donated monthly.”

The Pahoa Pantry and Soup Kitchen (PPSK) is located in Downtown Pahoa at 15-2710 Kauhale Steet under the Sunday Farmer’s Market tents, and operates solely by community volunteers. Open hours for the Soup Kitchen are Tuesdays and Fridays at 4:30 pm (first come first serve), and the Pahoa Pantry the second Friday of every month.

For further PPSK information please visit www.pahoafeedthehungry.org, or contact Thomas Manago at 808.464.5846 or thomasmanago1960@gmail.com. And, families in need are encouraged to visit PPSK for their food needs.

Flash Flood Watch Extended; Puna Council Meeting Cancelled

From Hawaaii County Civil Defense at 6:15 p.m., Monday, August 24:

The National Weather Service Flash Flood Watch for Hawaii Island remains in effect.  Due to unstable weather conditions and very moist air across the state, the flash flood watch will remain in effect through 6:00PM tomorrow.

Currently heavy rains and occasional thunder and lighting can be expected across all areas of the island.

With the ongoing upper slope rains and runoff, Highway 11 near the Whittington Beach Park in Ka’u is experiencing intermittent road closure due to flooding conditions.  Presently the highway is open to one lane traffic; however, motorists are advised to avoid the area and to use alternate routes if possible.

All other major highways and roadways are opened at this time however motorists are advised to drive carefully and to be prepared for hazardous conditions, ponding, and runoff, and to anticipate traffic delays.

Lastly, in consideration of the hazardous road conditions, the joint Puna Council public meeting scheduled for tonight at the Mt. View School has been cancelled.

Flash Flood Warning Issued; Hwy. 11 Closed in Ka’u

From t County of Hawaii Civil Defense:

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Hawaii Island effective through 12:30PM this afternoon.  Heavy rain fall is expected in various areas of West Hawaii from South Kona through North Kohala.  Many of these areas have experienced significant rainfall over the past days and may be prone to flooding.

 Due to heavy runoff and flooding, Highway 11 near the Whittington Beach Park in Kau  is closed to all traffic.  The road closure extends from Punaluu to Naalehu.  Motorists are advised to avoid the area and to use alternate routes if possible.  All other major highways and roadways are open at this time, however motorists are advised to drive carefully and to be prepared for hazardous conditions to include  ponding and runoff, and to anticipate traffic delays.

 The Flash Flood Watch for Hawaii Island remains in effect.  Due to unstable weather conditions and very moist air across the state, the flash flood watch will remain in effect through 6:00 p.m. tonight.

Floods, Thunder–but not a “Tropical Storm”–Hit Big Island

Due to unstable weather conditions and very moist air across the state, a flash flood watch will remain in effect through 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, Monday, August 24.  As of 6:30 this evening Highway 250,  the Kohala Mountain Road had been closed at the 9-mile mark due to heavy flooding.   Currently heavy rains and thunder and lighting is being reported across parts of West Hawaii from Waimea through Kona.  Residents in the Honoka’a area have reported close lightning strikes on Facebook.

Civil Defens reports that “North Kohala traffic is being detoured through the Kohala Ranch Subdivision. All other major highways and roadways are opened at this time however motorists are advised to drive carefully and to be prepared for hazardous conditions, ponding, and runoff,  and to anticipate traffic delays.

The current weather on the island is not, however, part of an organized tropical storm.  The nearest such storm, Tropical Depression Kilo, is currently over 800 miles west-southwest of Hilo, and its current projected path takes it well to the west of all the main Hawaiian Islands.

Commentary: Kama’aina Blues

by Alan McNarie

Kama’aina: someone who’s been here long enough to look at a place in the present, see it as it once was, see it as it will be, and care deeply about all three.  I just spent two days on the Kona side for the first time in years–met my lady friend Kersten’s brother and his wife for the first time and enjoyed the visit, but that enjoyment was tempered by Kama’aina pain. They’d rented a time-share in Waikoloa. I took them to see Kalako-Honokahau National Historic Park, one of my favorite spots on the island: one of the few places left in the islands where, in the past, I’ve seen not just endangered species such as ae’o (black-necked stilts) and ‘alae ke’oke’o (Hawaiian coots), but whole flocks of them. Yesterday, though, all I saw were a single ‘alae ke’oke’o and a few sandpipers. On previous visits I’ve seen dozens of green sea turtles, either hauled out to sun or grazing on algae in the tide pools; yesterday I only saw three or four. I’m hoping that the birds and turtles were just displaced temporarily by the storm, and will return…. Yesterday evening, while Kersten nursed a migraine at our darkened room, I went snorkeling with Kersten’s brother at Anaeho’omalu. We saw only two yellow tangs; almost all 0f the few fish we did observe were small, drab species–probably thanks to the damned aquarium trade.

But one thing was getting more abundant on the Kona Coast:  shopping centers. New developments seemed to be sprouting like fungi all along Highway 19 from Waikoloa to Kailua-Kona. The whole North Kona Coast, which was the home mainly to feral donkeys, a few beach parks and the ruins of ancient Hawaiian villages when I first got here, appears to be on its way to becoming a strip city….

I’m sure many or most of the tourists who sunbathe and play golf at the Waikoloa resorts don’t share this kind of temporal migraine, this painful triple vision; they just see the luxurious cocoon of the resorts, without seeing how much the land is changing. The only glimpses they get of the past may be the petroglyphs along the golf course trails, the romanticized biographies of Hawaiian royalty on the plaques in the King’s Market, and the bowdlerized and inaccurate  “Hawaiian luaus” where they feast on roast pig and pineapple while “hula dancers” shake their hips furiously to the wild rhythms of Tahiti. I think Kersten’s brother and his wife are probably more sensitive than many to these conflicts of place and time; they edit a newsletter for their own community in Arizona, where some of the same conflicts must be happening.  But how could they know that the very place where they came for a happy getaway was arousing such deep conflicts in their resident relatives?  How can they guess that, when our smiles fade too quickly, the smile at seeing them is genuine, but the sadness comes from seeing the land? How can they possibly discern the difference between what we feel about this place and what we feel about them?

How many other visitors notice the tired scowls and forced smiles of the wait help, who likely caught the Hele-On from Puna or Ka’u in the wee hours of the morning in order to reach their minimum-wage jobs? How many of them realize that once, all along this coast, every bay and cove held a Hawaiian village instead of a luxury hotel or subdivision?  How many of them glimpse the pain of what was lost, and will be lost, to give them their few days in an artificial “Paradise”?

And yet it’s not their fault.  They’re trying to get away from their own troubles in their own homes in far-off places, and paying dearly for the privilege.  So we hide our pain and we smile, and some of us get a few dollars from the resorts’ corporate owners to help maintain the illusion.

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the day that I first stepped off the plane in Hilo. Since that day, I’ve worked first as a teacher, then as a paralegal helping the victims of family violence, then as a journalist, giving people information that they needed to know and might not have learned otherwise. I’ve celebrated local artists and local culture, have tracked off-island money in local elections, and have helped to provoke at least four full-fledged grassroots rebellions with the stories I’ve reported. I like to think that I’ve given enough back overall to earn my place on this island that I love so much, though sometimes I wonder.  For the past 15 years or so, I’ve been joking that I was “almost a kama’aina”–and would be until the day I die.

I’m going to stop saying that now.  I’m at least a novice kama’aina.  It hurts too much, now, for me to think I’m anything else. But I know that what I feel is only a scratch compared to the pain of those with older roots. How magnified would my sadness be, if my ancestors had lived in one of those vanished coastal villages–if they’d toiled for generations, piling the rocks of those mighty fishpond dikes at Kaloko-Honokahau? What would I feel if my great-great-grandmother had left my great-grandfather’s piko in one of those holes pecked in the pahoehoe beside what is now the seventh green, but I’m only welcome to come to visit that spot, now, if I’m a corporate employee or the guest of one of the guests? How would I feel if my ancestral village  lay under the foundation of a time-share condo?

There is too much pain, too much sadness deep in the bones of this beautiful island. Kama’aina are the ones who are gifted to feel it.


Feds Issue Order to Protect Monk Seals in the Main Hawaiian Islands

The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a final rule designating 7,000 square miles of beaches and coastal waters around the main Hawaiian Islands as “critical habitat” for Hawaiian Monk seals. The new ruling grants more protections for the seals, some of the most critically endangered marine mammals on the planet. There are only about 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left, and the population is believed to be falling about 3 percent per year. Critical habitat for the seals had already been designated in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands in 1986, but he seals have been seen more frequently in the main islands in recent years.

The new ruling would place stronger restrictions over federal activities about Hawaiian coastal waters and on its beaches–but only on Federal activities and those funded or permitted by the United States Government. It “does not interfere with fishing, gathering, swimming, or other beach activities. The critical habitat designation affects only federal, not state or local, actions … The designation does not make the lands federal, restrict public access, or forbid activities or developments. Critical habitat merely identifies the areas where federal government projects must give extra consideration and minimize destruction and degradation of the coast, something that beach- and ocean-loving Hawaiians would want anyway,” according to a joint press release from nine environmental organizations, three of which— the Center for Biological Diversity, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and Ocean
Conservancy—had first petitioned the Feds to enact the restrictions in 2008.

“Without a growing, healthy population in the main Hawaiian Islands — where seals are successfully foraging and reproducing — the seal could go extinct in our lifetime. Federal data show that endangered species with critical habitat protections are twice as likely to recover as those without,” maintained the press release.

“In the seven years since we filed the petition to designate critical habitat around the main Hawaiian Islands, there has been a lot of critical discussion about how to use environmental regulations to care for Hawai`i’s wildlife and coastal resources. We appreciate that discussion and, although we had hoped it would be more comprehensive, we’re glad to see the final rule,” said Bianca Isaki of KAHEA.

Hawaiian monk seals are among the oldest and most primitive of all seal species. Their closest relatives are halfway around the globe, in the Mediterranean; a Caribbean monk seal species is already believed to be extinct. Among the dangers they face are habitat degradation and the danger of becoming by-catch in fishing nets. If global warming submerges the atolls of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, then the main Hawaiian Islands will become even more critical to their survival. But they’ll still have to share the beaches with human bathers and surfers—a problem, since they’re notoriously solitary creatures and can be surly if disturbed. Messing with a monk seal on a beach is not a good idea for either humans or seals, Federal restrictions or no.

“Protecting coastal and marine habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal is also good for Hawai`i’s people, culture and economy,” noted Marjorie Ziegler, executive director of Conservation Council for Hawai`i. “The critical habitat rule does not restrict public access — people can still swim, surf, snorkel, fish and gather.”

“Preventing the monk seal from going extinct is not rocket science; we can do this,” believes Said Mike Gravitz, directs policy for the Marine Conservation Institute and heads its monk seal program: “The seals in the main Hawaiian Islands need critical habitat, NOAA has to be serious about implementing its own recovery plan, and we need to work with the communities and fishers in Hawaii to listen to their concerns and reduce any conflicts with the seals. If we lose the battle to save the Hawaiian monk seal, we’ll have only ourselves to blame.”

More information on the seals can be found here

Big Island Craftsman Exhibition Seeks Local Artists and Artisans

Big Island Artists are invited to participate in The Hawaii Craftsman 48th Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition on  Oct 27-Nov. 20 at the Honolulu Museum of Art School. Emerging and established artists residing in the state of Hawaii are welcome to enter traditional or non-traditional crafts with a fresh approach or point of view. The exhibition is open to functional and non-functional 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional art in categories of clay, fiber, glass, wood, metal, stone and mixed media. Juror selected cash awards presented at the Honolulu opening reception Oct. 27, 2015.

September 15 is the closing date for on-line entry registration. No mail-in or intake/jurying day entries accepted. All artists are required to enter online through www.callforentry.org. All Big Island entries will be physically viewed by the juror, Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims, Curator Emerita of the Museum of Art and Design in New York, for jurying on Sunday, Oct. 18 at Hilo’s Hawaii Museum of Contemporary Art (EHCC) with intake from 10 a.mm to noon; Jurying from noon to 2 p.m. and a  Juror’s Lecture from 2:00  to 2:45 p.m. Artwork pickup will be from 3:00-4:00 p.m. Location: 141 Kalakaua St. in Hilo, Theater Room Upstairs. Selected Big Island entries are then shipped to Oahu by the artist with delivery no later than Oct. 23. See www.hawaiicraftsmen.org for complete prospectus. If you need assistance with online entry, please feel free to contact Big Island Co-Chairs: Patti Pease Johnson, pattij3@hawaiiantel.net, (808) 966-8861 or Evan Jenkins, epj@hawaii.edu, (808) 640-0283.

Ching Foundation Sponsors “Inspired in Hawaii” Contest for Students

The Clarence T. C. Ching Foundation has announced its
Sixth Annual “Inspired in Hawaii” Essay, Poster and Video Contest
The contest encourages Hawaii’s students to “dream big and make Hawaii a better place.” This year’s contest, which is open to students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 who are current residents of the state of
Hawaii,  offers $10,000 in cash awards for winning students and their teachers.

Poster and Essay Division Awards:
First Place: $125 student, $50 teacher
Second Place: $100 student, $50 teacher
Third Place: $50 student, $50 teacher
Video Division Awards*:
First Place: $300 team, $100 teacher
Second Place: $250 team, $100 teacher
Third Place $200 team, $100 teacher
Fourth Place $150 team, $100 teacher
Fifth Place: $100 team, $100 teacher

Students may enter only one division.
Essay Division: Grades 6-12, individual
Poster Division: Grades K-12, individual
Video Division: Grades 7-12, individual or team entries

Each entry must identify an existing problem in Hawaii and offer a thoughtful solution to the problem. Go to the Web site for rules, entry forms, prizes, judging criteria and information on Clarence T.C. Ching. You can also see last year’s winning entries there.
Entries must be received no later than 4:00 p. m. on Friday, November 6, 2015. Mail or deliver entries to:

ATTN: Inspired in Hawaii Contest, The Clarence T. C. Ching Foundation, 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 770, Honolulu, HI 96813

If there’s a question that isn’t answered at the Web site, contestants can email contest coordinator saraplatte@mac.com.

Award winners will be contacted through their schools and invited to an awards program in February 2016.

Letter: More on the Roundabout

Dear Russell, Gregor, Joy, Daniel, Billy, Gov. Ige (DOT and Editors),

I am sorry to be a big pain in the ass, but I think you as our elected officials are making a big mistake by not actively trying to stop this or at least force the original 2-lane design (without crosswalks of any type) so we are increasing the size of our one road in and out of Pahoa and not adding pedestrians to the mix.  

As our elected representatives of the residents who will be impacted by the Roundabout, I am asking you to please truly look at the DOT plans and not let politics get in the way of safety. Mr. Sniffin told community members at that last meeting they are installing the one-lane roundabout first, they are not allowed to install the 2-lane, because they don’t know if it [roundabout] will work.  

There should be no experimentation done with our only road.  We as a community already have been squeezed for years and we have the potential for live lava flowing in the area at any time.  We finally get a crosswalk – and it is in the middle of our roundabout???  The crosswalks needs to be by Hawaiian Beaches and Post Office Road.   We need to be able to get in and out of Pahoa without waiting for pedestrians needing to cross the street and 3 inputs of traffic merging in circles.  

What happens when there is an accident and rescue personnel are trapped inside Pahoa with an ambulance needing to get to Hilo hospital?  We can’t wait for 2 hours for someone to unlock the gate in Nanawale.  You are all being notified again that this is an wasteful and unsafe plan to build some roundabout speculating that it might work.  This should be unacceptable to you.

Thank you for your concern for the people of Pahoa and not shmoozing with fancy shirts on this.


Sara Steiner

Hawaiians Arrested for Squatting Claim “Sovereign Rights”

According to the Hawaii Police Department, eight people were  arrested on Friday, August 14, for illegally squatting in a Kurtistown home while claiming Hawaiian Sovereignty rights.”After an extended effort by a Realtor to remove former tenants and others from a foreclosed home on Kapalai Road in Kurtistown, State Sheriffs served an eviction notice on July 25 on the persons squatting in one of two homes on the property,” the police press release eported. “Several of the adults present were confrontational, refusing to identify themselves, but all 12 persons (adults and children) left the property with their belongings. The Realtor later changed the locks on the doors.

“On August 5, police conducted a check of the house in response to information that it appeared one of the homes had been reoccupied after the eviction. Police observed a woman outside the house who immediately went inside, secured the door and refused to come out, arguing that she had Hawaiian Sovereignty rights allowing occupancy of the house and property. Police overheard other persons inside the house and advised the occupants that they would be returning.”

Ten days later after police returned and surrounded the structure, “The occupants voluntarily opened the door and all eight adults were arrested but refused to be fingerprinted or photographed, claiming Hawaiian Sovereignty.”

All of those arrested were adults.  The police also contacted the Humane Society to take custody of  seven dogs that were allso on the property.

Those arrested and charged with first-degree criminal trespassing:

Tiana Kaniaupio, 19
Sarah Kanuha, 35
Herman Elderts Jr., 37
Shaun Kanuha, 40
Victoria Elderts, 58
Herman Elderts Sr., 65
William Elderts, 73
Barbara Elderts, 83

Bail was set for each at $1,000.

Flash Flood Watch Continues

As the remnants of Tropical Depression Hilda continue to soak both East and West Hawaii, Hawaii County Civil Defense has reported that the Flash Flood Watch already in force here “is expected to remain through late tonight….  Heavy rains and thunder showers are being reported across parts of east and west Hawaii and  including areas along Saddle Road.   Some ponding and run off is occurring.  Residents in flood prone areas are advised to take necessary precautions and motorists are advised to drive carefully and prepare for possible hazardous conditions and traffic delays.   Presently all major highways and roadways are open.  Everyone is advised to remain out of streams and drainages as sudden flash flooding is possible.”

Park Reopens Campground, Back Country

With Tropical Depression Hilda slowly winding down and forecast wind speeds decreasing, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials ha have re-opened all previous storm-related closures within the park.

 The backcountry areas and summit of Mauna Loa, the remote coastal sites from ‘Apua Point to Ka‘aha, Hilina Pali Road and Kulanaokuaiki Campground, Mauna Loa Road, and Namakanipaio Campground and A-frame cabins are now open. Heavy rain is still expected through Saturday, however, and park visitors should drive with caution. A flash flood watch is still in effect for the entire island.

The park has, however, extended its closure of the 700-foot exit trail from Thurston Lava Tube, as workers repave the trail following the replacement of an underground power cable. The lava tube remains open, and the trail that leads into it will be used as both exit and entry. Escape Road, from Highway 11 to Thurston Lava Tube, will continue to be closed during the repaving project. The paving project  is scheduled to be completed by Fri., Aug. 21.

Flash Flood Watch Still in Efect

A flash flood watch remains in effect as the remnants of Hurricane Hilda, now a tropical depression, muddle their way past the islands.

According to he 5 a.m. update from Hawaii County Civil Defense,   “The Flash Flood watch is expected to remain through 6:00 AM Saturday morning.  As the remnants of Tropical Depression Hilda continues to track to the south of Hawaii Island heavy rains and thunder showers are expected and may result in flooding conditions.  Heavy rains and thunder showers are being reported across parts of east Hawaii.  Some ponding and run off is occurring.  Residents in flood prone areas are advised to take necessary precautions and motorists are advised to drive carefully and prepare for possible hazardous conditions and traffic delays.   Currently all Public and private schools will be open however some charter schools may be closed due to the weather conditions.  Parents of students in Charter School programs are advised to contact your school for information on school closure or schedule changes.  Presently all major highways and roadways are open.  Everyone is advised to remain out of streams and drainages as sudden flash flooding is possible.   Additional updates may be posted and broadcast as conditions change.  Please monitor your local radio broadcast for updates.”

Hilda’s Here, and She’s a Bit Depressing

Tropical Depression Hilda (formerly Hurricane Hilda) is now passing south of the Big Island, bringing locally heavy rains.  The County of Hawaii remains under a flash flood watch. As of about 11 a.m. today, the center of the depression was about 235 miles southeast of Hilo, and maximum sustained winds were 35-55 MPH.

“The flash flood watch issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect for Hawaii Island, ” reported Hawaii County Civil Defense, which noted that the watch was “expected to remain through 6:00AM Saturday morning.  As Tropical Storm Hilda continues to track to the south of Hawaii Island heavy rains and thunder showers are expected and may result in flooding conditions.  Heavy rains and thunder showers are expected across the east and southeast area of Hawaii Island and to begin this afternoon and through tonight.  Residents in flood prone areas are advised to take necessary precautions and motorists are advised to drive carefully and prepare for possible hazardous conditions and traffic delays.   Currently all roads and schools are open.  Some schools may be modifying or suspending after school activities based on anticipated weather conditions and possible road closures.  Parents are advised to contact your respective schools for current information on after school programs.   Additional updates may be broadcast and posted as conditions change.  Please monitor your local radio broadcast for updates.”

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center has posted a “Tropical Preparedness Tip” that includes the following note: “Tropical cyclones including hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical depressions. Even the weakest tropical depressions can bring torrential rains and flash flooding to the Hawaiian Islands.”

According to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s Web site, “all backcountry areas in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park will be closed as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12 until it is safe to reopen them. No backcountry permits will be issued until park staff reassess the storm’s impact.  In addition, Mauna Loa Road from K?pukapuaulu to the Mauna Loa Lookout, and Namakanipaio Campgrounds and A-frame cabins, will close as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Much of the park will remain open, including Jaggar Museum, Kilauea Visitor Center, restrooms, lava tube, front-country trails, steam vents, and other popular features. Visitors should be prepared for heavy rain and wind.”

Jason Armstrong of Hawaii County’s Parks and Recreation Division told the Chronicle that all County Parks and Rec facilities remained open.