Tropical Storm Ana: Maui Shuts Down

Aloha!

A Reader wrote to say they were due for their first trip to Maui and wondered if they should cancel (without penalty.) We said yes. It certainly won’t be any fun to not be able to go to the beach, and to get blown around. There will be no boating activites and helicopter and air activities will most likely be canceled.

Here’s the latest:

Tropical Storm Ana is packing sustained winds of 65 mph and is 375 miles south–southeast of Hilo. A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Big Island and Maui County’s leeward waters, the Alenuihaha Channel and the Big Island’s windward waters.

Before the heaviest winds arrive, south and south-east facing shores could see surf of 10 to 20 feet with storm surge of 1 foot, possibly 2 feet, on south-eastern shores.

Rainfall of 5 to 10 inches with locally heavy rainfall of 20 inches or more will precede the strongest winds. A flash flood watch statewide began at noon today.

Here are the area closings/changes:

Island Air halted flights to Maui and Lanai on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
Fliers ticketed for travel on Island Air from today to Monday will be permitted to change their flight online without charge at http://www.Islandair.com or by contacting reservations at one 800–652–6541, which will maintain extended hours of 6 AM to 9 PM through Sunday and return to regular hours of 7 AM to 6 PM on Monday. Changes must be made prior to the departure of originally scheduled flights, the commuter airline said.

A host of local events are either postponed or canceled. Check the Maui News for the schedules.

On Molokai, there is gas rationing with purchases limited to $20 per vehicle, because the next shipment of gasoline to the island is not expected until next Thursday, due to Ana. At $5.33 a gallon for regular unleaded that comes to almost 4 gallons of gas. “When people panic, they fill up not only their cars, but gas cans and drums. Everybody wants to be prepared after seeing what happened to Puna, and that’s understandable. However, we need to make sure we have enough for everyone as well,” said Lori-lei Rawlins-Crivello of Rawlings Chevron on Molokai.

County parks and recreational facilities will be closed Saturday with camping grounds closed today, the county Department of Parks and Recreation announced Thursday. Camping permits issued for tonight and Saturday night were canceled.

State parks on Maui and Molokai were closed today, until further notice. Campers in remote coastal areas have been notified to leave.

Forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, natural area reserves and Na Ala Hele hiking trails and game management areas are closed until further notice. Haleakala National Park Summit closed at noon today. The park will remain closed until managers can assess the safety conditions of the roads, trails, campgrounds and visitor centers. In anticipation of Ana, the park stopped issuing backcountry camping and cabin permits Wednesday. Existing weekend backcountry permits have been canceled. For the latest closure information, go to the website http://www.nps.gov/hale.

The state’s small–boat harbors will be closed at 4:30 PM today, until further notice, the DLNR said. Those include Maalaea and Lahaina small – boat harbors.

Interisland shipper Young Brothers updated its shipping schedule Thursday, anticipating that Kahului Harbor will not be closed, but that the port of Kaumalapau on Lanai and Kaunakakai will be shut down by the Coast Guard today. For updates, go to http://www.youngbrothershawaii.com.

Visitors are urged to heed warnings from lifeguards and public health and safety officials and warned of rip currents and contaminated shorelines due to run-off.

Fuel your vehicle. Store and secure outdoor objects and loose, lightweight objects. Prepare to cover window and door openings with boards, shutters are other shielding materials.

Stock up on bottled water, toilet paper, rice, and essentials.

Fo those interested in shelters, the county said Thursday that locations, including pet–friendly shelters, will be announced as needed. The MauiBus will Shuttle residents to shelters for free if needed.

Lastly, be safe out there. Hurricane season lasts until November 30!

(All information sources from the Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com, as of Friday, October 17, 2014.)

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Aloha, Jamaica

Positive Outlook?

Aloha!
Tourism is still the driving factor in Maui County’s economy, according to economists at First Hawaiian Bank’s 39th annual Maui Business Outlook Forum. But if you’re thinking of moving to Maui and finding a job, or starting a business, read on.

At its lowest point in the recent deep recession in 2010, the county lost nearly 9,000 jobs. About 5,000 of those jobs have returned, mostly in tourism and other service-related fields, and the unemployment rate is still well above the 3% rate before the recession. In my personal experience, I was working a part-time job on Maui when I was laid off. I found out firsthand that these jobs numbers are not totally accurate: I would never show up as a statistic, because I could not collect unemployment as a part-time employee. So it was as if my job never existed. And I could not collect unemployment, even though I’d been paying into it for years!

In it’s third-quarter “Outlook for the Economy” published last month, the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism projected state unemployment rates to be 4.8% in 2013 and 4.5% in 2014.

As for construction, activity has been on a slow but steady climb since 2011 and has made about a 25% recovery after plummeting to its low point in 2010. However, the economists noted, the opportunities are coming from infastructure and commercial construction, and less from residential and timeshares. So if you’re a guy planning to swing a hammer, be aware of that.

The retail sector also is expected to grow. The Maui Mall will add a T.J. Maxx store, scheduled to open in summer 2015.(Yay.) And the Queen Kaahumanu Center is planning to add new “name brand” shops. (That will be nice, especially after we lost both JCPenney and the Gap. Because of that, I tend to shop for basics on the mainland.)

As far as real estate, based on January – through – July numbers this year, sales for both single – family and condo units were well on their way to numbers not seen since their peak in 2007: 1,000 single family units and 1,300 condos sold. “The market is getting back to where it was,” said the President of Realtors Association of Maui, P. Denise LaCosta.”When inventory is low like this, it means prices will rise, and inventory will continue to shrink.” Maui’s real estate inventory has declined 11-14% over the last 12 months.

Make of these numbers what you will…A number of readers wrote to tell me they were planning to move to Maui. If you are one of those people, please write and tell me if you found jobs. Shauna?

Other than that, we have drought conditions here on Maui, because it’s been hot, hot,hot with NO rain. I got my haircut today and was talking with my hairstylist, who lives in Haiku. She said that Haiku (rainy, eastern-Maui, jungle) used to only get in the high 70s, and it has consistently been 85 to 87 this past week. She said she is “over summer” and “so tired of being hot!” I concur. As I wrote in a past blog post, statistics now show that Maui is 10° hotter than it was 10 years ago…

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica