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Hawaii remains under flood warnings as a 'kona low' storm continues to dump rain

A pedestrian tries to cross a flooded Queen Street, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, in Honolulu.
Marco Garcia
A pedestrian tries to cross a flooded Queen Street, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, in Honolulu.

Punishing rains over the Hawaiian islands have produced gusty winds and flash flooding throughout the state, with weather warnings still in effect as of Tuesday morning.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said the weather had knocked out power and cut off access to some roads, though there were no storm-related deaths as of 2 p.m. local time on Monday. Still, officials warned the storm, which began over the weekend, remained a threat.

The system struck the Big Island, Maui and Molokai on Sunday and moved westward over the populous island of Oahu on Monday and Tuesday morning. The storm is a "kona low," a type of cyclone that occurs in the Pacific's cool season and brings torrential rains, floods, waterspouts and other hazardous conditions.

Public parks in Honolulu, as well as the Honolulu Zoo, closed due to the weather, and four emergency shelters in the city were opened for residents impacted by the storm.

Late on Monday, Gov. David Ige signed an emergency declaration for the entire state, freeing up funding for the emergency response.

Some areas saw up to 14 inches of rain, according to preliminary rainfall totals from the National Weather Service.

Hawaii's climate office has said that as the state gets drier it rains less often, but when it does rain the storms are heavier. That can lead to landslides, runoff, algae blooms and catastrophic flooding, which carries economic and public health risks.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.