Tornado Warning Rattles Residents
As high winds and rain battered Molokai the evening of Jan. 8, forecasters for the National Weather Service (NWS) saw a troubling image on the radar. A powerful thunderstorm over Kepuhi Bay in west Molokai was exhibiting rotation and deemed capable of producing a tornado.
A tornado warning was issued at 7:45 p.m., with residents advised to take immediate cover. Although no tornado materialized, many residents were left with concerns over a lack of preparedness for such an event.
“We’re not used to doing tornado warnings, and that’s one of the really short fuse events where you have to take action right away,” explained John Bravender, a warning coordination meteorologist for NWS.
“One of the big things with a tornado warning is to get inside and get in an interior room of a house on the lowest floor, on the ground, away from windows,” said Bravender.
In houses without basements, the safest place could be a bathroom or closet.
“The idea is to put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible,” Bravender explained.
Right now, the state is seeing a pattern of cold fronts coming through regularly, according to Bravender.
“Going into this wet season we were expecting drier than normal conditions,” he explained. However, “we could still have fronts like this come through.”
Flooding from Monday’s rain led to Hawaii Dept. of Education schools closing on Tuesday, Jan. 9, giving most Molokai students the day off.
Residents can learn more about tornado preparedness at weather.gov/safety/tornado-during.