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Wednesday, April 5, 2006 - Page updated at 11:25 AM

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Hawaii gets back to sunshine; Waikiki beaches reopening after sewage spill

HONOLULU — After six weeks of torrential rains and flooding, Hawaii's trade winds have returned, bringing back the normally sunny weather. "The weather pattern has finally shifted, we've returned to trade winds," said state Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeira. "I'm hoping it stays this way, but Mother Nature has her own clock."

There are still many problems left by the record rains, which could cost tens of millions of dollars because of flooding of homes, businesses and agricultural fields plus relief efforts.

In Waikiki, the beach mecca of Honolulu, some beaches were reopened Wednesday after being closed because of sewage contamination. A broken sewer main in Waikiki forced the diversion last week of 48 million gallons of untreated sewage into a canal that empties near Waikiki's white-sand beaches. It's been repaired, and ocean currents are now taking the sewage away from the beaches and bacteria levels are dropping back to normal. (Get information about beach closures at the state's health department Web site, http://emdweb.doh.hawaii.gov/CleanWaterBranch/Postings/ )

Elsewhere in Oahu, retailers were cleaning up after river overflows and downpours damaged parts of a Kahala mall and about 20 other stores on the weekend.

Rainfall records were set in many areas of the state since the the unusually severe weather started Feb. 19, said National Weather Service meteorologist Derek Wroe.

Kauai was one of the hardest hit islands, including the rupture of a rain-swollen dam in mid-March that unleashed a flash flood, killing seven people.

Nearly 92 inches of rain were recorded in March at Mount Waialeale on Kauai, one of the rainiest spots in the world. The previous record was about 90 inches in April 1971. At Kauai's main airport in Lihue, 35.9 inches of rain was recorded in March, according to the National Weather Service, smashing the previous monthly record of 22. 9 inches in December 1968. (See rainfall statistics at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/)

The bad weather across all the islands — which also brought heavy rains to normally dry parts of the Big Island of Hawaii and spawned a small tornado on Lanai — was caused by a persistent low pressure pattern that hovered around Hawaii, Wroe said. The system has significantly weakened. While there still will be some rain, it's more isolated showers.

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