Typical Weather Returns to Hawaii After Flooding, Tornado

March 12, 2012; 4:06 AM ET
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Photo of large hail in Hawaii posted on Twitter by Maya S. on March 9, 2012.

Flooding, landslides and even a tornado recently pummeled the Hawaiian Islands.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu confirmed that an waterspout moved onshore as an EF-0 tornado in Lanikai around 7:10 AM local time Friday morning. The twister then continued southwestward, impacting parts of the Enchanted Lakes Subdivision in Kailua.

The tornado damaged or destroyed several roofs, snapped trees, knocked down power lines and destroyed road signs.

Winds associated with the tornado were estimated at 60-70 mph. It had an average width of 20 yards and a damage path that spanned 1.5 miles.

Multiple landslides the last several days have resulted in a deluge, blocking highways in Hanalei, Kalihiwai and Koloa.

Bus service north of Hanamaulu, Hawaii, was cancelled for a time due to the flooding rainfall.

Some of the thunderstorms became so violent that they produced hail with diameters up to 2 inches in Kailua and Kaneohe. Some of the hail-producing thunderstorms have lasted for half an hour.


Three-Inch Hail, 46 Inches of Rain in Hawaii

"What [went on] in Hawaii is a symptom of the change from La Niña to El Niño coming on," according to AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.

La Niña is a phenomenon classified by below-normal water temperatures of the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean, while El Niño occurs when there is above-normal water temperatures in the same zone.

Temperatures have been warming up in the Pacific over the last month.

"Think of the Pacific Ocean as either a big pot of cold water or hot water," explained AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity. "The water is either going to cool the atmosphere or warm it. Because you are making a change to one area of the atmosphere, everything else has to change around it. Thus, the whole weather pattern changes for the Northern Hemisphere."

When water temperatures warm, the air above it warms, leading to more rising air and thunderstorms in that area. Other areas of the atmosphere will cool with sinking air and calm conditions in response, because the atmosphere is always trying to reach a balance.

"Hawaii holds some of the world's rainiest locations, but over the weekend, things got a little out of control," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell said. "Local rivers and creeks came out of their banks. NWS reports also indicated that a number of roads were closed due to flooding, the Llikai Hotel at Waikiki was set ablaze by lightning, and most incredibly, hail of 1.5 inches in diameter was observed in Honolulu when a rare supercell thunderstorm moved over the island."

Hanelei, Hawaii, received 35.97 inches of rain in just over two days.

The good news for travelers and residents of the state is that a more typical weather pattern is developing and will persist into next week.

The storm that wreaked havoc on the state will continue to track westward away from the Hawaiian Islands, leaving behind a more normal, trade wind pattern for this time of year.

Much drier weather is forecast beginning on Sunday with just the typical trade wind showers from time to time.


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