A wet weekend in Hilo finally ends


29 inches.

That’s the amount of rain that fell on Hilo, my former hometown, between Friday evening and yesterday

Overloaded streams flooded more than a hundred homes in the Waiakea Uka suburb upslope of town. Flood control channels overflowed into Hilo’s picturesque bayfront area. Landslides closed highways and roads along the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast. Schools closed on Monday.

A usually dry mini-ditch between my mom’s and neighbor’s homes turned into a raging torrent that carried rocks from up to a quarter-mile away down our cul de sac. 

Cleanup began this morning around Hilo, as rains finally began to subside. A flash flood watch, however, remained in effect.

Hilo is as well known for its wet and rainy days as Kailua-Kona on the west side of the Big Island is for its dry and sunny ones. But don’t think that Hiloans are blasé about deluges like the one that struck their town and the island of Kauai this weekend. 

In high school, we’d compare one monumental Hilo rainstorm to another.

“Remember the March 1982 storm? That was serious, man. We were riding bodyboards down our street,” a classmate might say. “Nah, the January 1986 one was bigger. My neighbor’s Chevy got washed down the gulch,” I might have answered, trying to one-up him.

My mom has lived in Hilo her entire life, and loves it there. But by Sunday evening, even she’d had enough of the weekend’s never-ending downpour.

Grousing by phone, she said, “I’m sick of this. We just had rain like this at New Year’s … I’ve been indoors for three days.” Pause. “Is it raining in Honolulu?”

“Uh, no. Just overcast,” I answered, quietly, trying not to sound like I was bragging.

“Mother Nature needs to spread the love,” she finished.

Spoken like a true Hiloan.

Here’s a YouTube video we found of Hilo’s Waiakea Uka area on Saturday, the worst day of the storm.


Categories: Hawai‘i Island