Updated: Freak Storm Unleashes Torrential Flooding Across Kauai

Unprecedented torrential rain of a foot or more hit Kauai late last night and into this morning. Beat of Hawaii’s garage was inundated with massive water and mud flow today. The storm led to widespread flash floods that widely impacted the Garden Island, shut down roads, and closed schools, public transportation, and the Kauai Community College. If you are hear on-island, please let us know what you are encountering.


Governor Green announced an emergency proclamation in response to the severe weather conditions including heavy rains, widespread flooding, and landslides on Kauai. That was in order to expedite the activation of the state’s emergency management responses and support the health and safety of the community. “The intense weather conditions in Kauai have significantly damaged critical infrastructure including roads and bridges. This proclamation is crucial as it empowers both state and county efforts to swiftly address and manage the ongoing impacts of the rains, flooding, and landslides on our communities” said Green.

Caused when a low-pressure system stagnated over the island.

An unusual severe thunderstorm watch was still in effect at the time of publishing, although rain had largely stopped at BOH headquarters. Strong and gusty winds have also created havoc. It is the most severe storm in a very long time on Kauai. Such a large storm is also unusual occurring this late in the season.

NOAA reported the following:

“A strong low pressure system northwest of the state brought a band of heavy rain and thunderstorms across Kauai. While light rain began during the day on Thursday, the most intense period of rain occurred in the 12 hour period between 6 pm Thursday and 6 am Friday. There were several evacuations in the Wailua and Koloa area and multiple roads were closed across the islands due to flooding and landslides.”

While multiple rescues have been reported, there have been no indications of injuries or deaths.

Shelters have been opened on the island’s eastside in Kapaa and on the south shore at Koloa. American Red Cross volunteers are staffing these.

Lihue Airport Kauai

Kauai Airport is open at Lihue.

The airport reported about twelve inches of rain in 9 hours from Thursday night into Friday morning. That made it one of the rainiest periods ever reported in Kauai’s weather history.

If you are arriving or departing Kauai today, we advise you to check with your airline to confirm the time of your flight, as delays are possible. Also, check Google Maps before heading to the airport to factor in delays caused by the following:

The highways on Kauai have been in part blocked.

While we have first-hand accounts from people getting through between the East Side and the airport, there are reports about problems with roads blocked in Lihue near the Royal Sonesta Resort, among other places.

Kaumualii Highway had been blocked in three different locations over a span of 7 miles as a result of mud and rocks on the roadway. Also, earlier this morning, the Kuhio Highway was blocked near the Hanalei Bridge. Reports of many other Kauai street closures are also coming to us now.

The state reported that “Kuhio Highway near Hanalei Bridge remains closed. The southbound (mauka) Wailua River Bridge on Kuhio Highway is closed. There is two-way traffic on the northbound (makai) bridge. There will be no contraflow today.”

Widespread power and cell phone outages were also reported.

These were across the island and multiple vendors. If you cannot reach people (as we have encountered), now you know why.

There is more rain expected on Kauai from now until this Sunday. Post comments about what you saw after the storm.

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14 thoughts on “Updated: Freak Storm Unleashes Torrential Flooding Across Kauai”

  1. Not sure this rainfall was unprecedented. Living on the north shore of Kauai we remember the world record rainfall of 2018 that left the road blocked beyond Hanalei for months.

    We did have the misfortune to be driving home from the airport last Thursday between 7 and 8 pm and it certainly was a downpour. Also, it did set records for Lihue Airport rainfall. Lots of rain but not unprecedented.

  2. I know they probably closed the Hanalei River Bridge because of rising water, but after all the stabilization work, how did the hillside fare?

    1. Hi Jay.

      Thanks. Well we’re bracing for another big storm today, if you look at the weather radar. It’s all just part of living in Hawaii.


  3. Mary,
    Could you explain how Mother Nature is being cruel?
    This is how Earth works, why we see and have what we have now.
    This heavy rainfall nurtures nature in so many ways.
    A pain for some humans, but Earth is not all about us.

    This is very interesting for those who like to follow science. This is definitely a cause of some of the weather pattern changes.
    “In March 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the east coast of Japan, shifted the Earth’s axis, and shortened days on Earth. ” “shifted the planet’s axis by about 17 centimeters (6.5 inches), and may have moved the main island by about 2.4 meters (8 feet). Like other similarly large earthquakes, it also changed the rotation speed of Earth IFL Science there is more

  4. Rob and Jeff –
    My apologies for not including that I hope your garage clean up is easy enough. I don’t know where you live on island, but if your garage floor is not raised about the surrounding ground, it won’t be easy to get all the mud out before it dries. We got lucky in the 2018 flood, since our house is 14 feet off the ground plus, close to the water, which is several feet higher ground than inland.

    I just saw a picture of the crane that collapsed and leaning on the Wailua river bridge. Apparently, bridge not damaged, which would have been a major crisis.

  5. Very sorry to hear of the flooding at your home
    Hopefully you get all the help you need to repair the damage and recover.

  6. OMG Guys. Mother Nature is being so cruel to my much loved place on earth. Our heart is crying for you. After 40 years of visiting Kauai, I no longer travel due to age but the island has become overloved as has Yosemite which will have limits put on now. As a native Californian I’ve visited many times over the years but can’t stand the crowds now.

  7. “Unprecedented torrential rain of a foot or more hit Kauai late last night and into this morning”

    Maybe “unprecentented” for your garage, but not for the north shore. 4 feet of rain in 24 hours leading to all manner of flood losses (homes, cars, trucks), and a road closure for 14 months back in April 2018 is plenty of precedent. Then there was the 100 days of rain back in the mid 2000s leading to the Dam failure and several dead people. We are not on island at the moment (be back in two weeks), but I hear from neighbors was the usual KIUC and Spectrum outages, plus likely some flooding on inland side of the highway, which sits lower than the ocean side.

    Exact same reason and exact same time of the year.

    1. Yes, exact same thing in April 2018, I was there too. Mud filled the condo swimming pool, washed out trees were in the surf line, no place to swim, roads closed, trails closed. It’s not unprecedented.
      Sorry to hear about your garage, hope you get help cleaning it up and drying it out, then take preventive action — it will happen again. See what Nainoa Thompson said about the warming ocean and risks for the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

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