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Maui County prepares for storm and high surf

HONOLULU (KHON2) - Maui Emergency Management Agency and Maui County departments are continuing to prepare for a severe winter storm coming out of the north that expects to impact the county Friday night and through the weekend.

Since a special weather statement was issued early this week, county department officials have been monitoring a deep low-pressure system north of the islands.

Department of Parks and Recreation officials were watching parks, prepared for possible closures if there’s shoreline flooding or dangerous ocean conditions, said Brian Perry, director of communications for Maui County.

Also, the Department of Public Works has been assessing available personnel that may need to be called out for possible flooding, landslides, toppled trees and fires. Acting Public Works Director David Goode said preparation work included topping off gas tanks for water trucks, bulldozers and other equipment and making sure drivers will be available for call-outs this weekend.

The Public Works Department has at least 100 Highways Division personnel countywide to respond to storm-related incidents.

Meanwhile, Maui Emergency Management Agency officials held a video teleconference Friday with the National Weather Service and other counties to assess forecasts for severe weather this weekend. During the teleconference, officials learned there’s a potential for unprecedented coastal flooding and erosion.

The storm is expected to come in two waves, with the first wave impacting Maui County Friday night and a second, stronger wave affecting the county Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Ocean conditions are increasing the likelihood for coastal flooding. Although the swells will come predominantly out of the north-northwest, the size of the surf and wrap-around effect will heighten the potential for flooding on the shoreline.

Damaging winds are likely during the storm, Perry said. Downed trees are expected islandwide. Damaging winds will accelerate over ridge tops, through valleys and in downslope areas of Maui County. There is a potential for hurricane-force winds at high elevations.

Significant impacts from rainfall are not expected, although flooding remains a possibility. The waves of showers are expected: the first late Friday night and the second late Saturday and into Sunday.

Residents and visitors are advised to stay away from streams, drainage ditches and low-lying areas prone to flooding. People also should not cross fast-flowing or rising water in vehicles or by foot.

Maui Emergency Management Agency manages its own emergency alert program that the public is encouraged to sign up for called Makaala. To register and learn more information about emergency preparedness, visit www.mauicounty.gov/emergency.

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