HONOLULU (KHON2) — Residents and visitors are being cautioned by the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency that high winds, high surf, thunderstorms and heavy rainfall are to be expected beginning Sunday, Dec. 18. HI-EMA said to prepare for the kona low system that is coming into the islands.

The National Weather Service issued a special statement regarding this storm system as it is expected to bring substantial hazards.

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They described the storm as a powerful low pressure system that will be driving strong winds from the southwest. Property damage and personal injury are at the top of cautions for this incoming system.

“These strengthening winds may become damaging Sunday night and Monday. Impacts could include roof damage, downed trees and power outages,” NWS reported.

There is also the possibility of thunderstorms with hail or heavy liquid downpours. Snow, sleet and freezing temperatures are possible in elevated mountain areas.

“A kona low system can bring strong gusty southerly winds across many areas that don’t usually experience them, and can easily damage roofs or send loose branches or other items flying,” said Luke Meyers, administrator of HI-EMA.

According to HI-EMA, a kona low system struck Hawai’i in December 2021 that caused millions of dollars in damages that included landslides of O’ahu, flooding on Maui and possibly a landslide that closed a road on Kaua’i.

HI-EMA said the system seems to be a relatively fast-moving storm. They cautioned residents that they need to take steps to ensure untethered or loose items or property are tied down or stowed away.

“With the holidays coming up, we encourage residents and visitors alike to plan any activities Sunday so they can be in a safe location by the time the storm’s effects start pushing ashore,” Meyers said.

They are also cautioning people to trim any low-hanging or damaged tree branches as they pose a danger to people and property in situations like this.

North and west facing shores are expected to receive high swells Sunday through Tuesday, Dec. 20. Waves will impact swimming, boating and shoreline properties with flooding of roads near shorelines possible.

HI-EMA provided a few tips to help us get through this winter storm:

  • 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.
  • 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…

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“We recommend that everyone in Hawai‘i take steps to prepare for the incoming system in case the impacts are significant and at a minimum monitor reports as it gets closer to the State,” Meyers said.