Deluge shuts down Hana taro fest

The Maui News
Sunday, March 28, 2004

By ILIMA LOOMIS, Staff Writer

HANA - "Extreme" rain and thunderstorms led to the cancellation of the East Maui Taro Festival's Saturday activities. But a festival board member said the event could resume today if the weather clears.

"If it's nice - and it looks like it might be - we'll go ahead with the pancake breakfast, and if any of the entertainers are here and want to entertain, they can go ahead and do that," said Judy Kinser, treasurer of the East Maui Taro Festival board.

Other activities that might go ahead today include excursions to the Pi'ilanihale Heiau, Kahanu Gardens and the "Living Farm" in Kipahulu to inspect taro loi.

Kinser said the County of Maui, a co-sponsor of the event, declared the rainout around 8 a.m. Saturday.

The Hana area was struck by a downpour that dropped more than 3 inches of rain at Kipahulu, according to National Weather Service provisional data. The Hana Airport rain gauge was not operating Saturday.

Forecaster Tim Craig said an easterly wind, combined with an upper level trough passing over the island chain, caused the drenching to focus on the East Maui coast, while other windward areas, including Wailuku, were mostly dry.

"With the easterly wind, although it was light, the rain hit the slopes of Haleakala at Hana, while Wailuku was in the rain shadow of Haleakala, so to speak," he said.

Board members have indicated they might reschedule the festival for May.

Hana resident John Blumer-Buell said the East Maui community has been inundated for a week, leaving the ground saturated and streams threatening to overflow bridges.

Saturday morning, "It cut loose, big time," he said. "It was just torrential, with huge lightning and thunder all over."

As someone who helped organize the Taro Festival in the past, Blumer-Buell said the fest has stayed open through downpours but wasn't prepared to cope with such "extreme" conditions.

"About the only thing that played at the Hana Ballpark was the Rolling Thunder Revue," he said.

Flooding closed roads at Ulaino and Nahiku, but Maui police said the highway around Kaupo and the Hana Highway remained open Saturday.

Ilima Loomis can be reached at

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