On the day after Christmas, Oahu residents found themselves in the dark. Electricity went out in the evening and was restored sometime the following morning.
We were at my mother's condo in Hawaii Kai having dinner. I noticed the lights flickering several times. I asked my mom about it, she said it was not normal. As we finished up dinner the lights finally went off! We first thought it was just the power in her building. Then we walked out to the lanai and this was our view of Hawaii Kai from the 12th floor.
Mostly, it was dark. There were a lot of cars on Kalanianaole Highway (the line of light in the upper right portion of the photo). A few buildings had backup power to light their stairways and grounds.
We bumped around in the dark and found the candles and flashlights. We also have a hand-crank radio/flashlight that came in very handy.
Most cell phones were still operational, so we called family and friends to see if they had electricity. Nearly the entire island was in the dark. Makakilo and Kapolei were the only areas with reports of power.
We cranked up the radio and listened to KSSK. For the first hour, phone calls to the station were ridiculous. It seemed like every person said "We don't have electricity! What's going on - is it out all over the island?" The same thing over and over. I guess these people weren't listening to the radio, they were just calling in.
By 9 p.m. we started getting reports from Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), the mayor and the governor. Power was out everywhere. Makakilo and Kapolei had still had electricity when most of the island lost theirs, but then it went out in those neighborhoods too. They urged Oahu residents to stay off the roads and conserve water. Predictions were that power would be restored in about 12 hours.
Another concern was for President-elect Obama! He's vacationing in Kailua. Obviously, the secret service was on its toes, checking out the neighborhood where Obama was staying. Callers to the radio station said they could see flashlights darting all around the property. Later in the evening, callers said the property had electricity. They most likely had backup generators available, since other homes were still in the dark.
We woke up around 7 a.m. this morning and electricity was back on! That's a relief. HECO was unsure what caused the outage last night. There was lightning in the sky, it's possible that it struck a transformer and/or power lines. As of 9 a.m. we have not received our newspaper yet. They probably were unable to operate the printing presses overnight. We'll learn more in the coming days.
Follow up 12/27/08
The Honolulu Advertiser (the main newspaer in town) apologizes online, there will be no newspaper delivery today.
Although we were lucky enough to have power restored when we woke up this morning, many other neighborhods on Oahu still do not have power as of noon. Some of the neighborhoods awaiting electric power are Kaneohe, Hauula, Kakaako and Aina Haina.
In Waikiki, ABC stores had brisk sales as tourists shopped for food and drinks. Most restaurants and stores closed when the power went off.
The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that a Hawaiian Airlines jet was struck by lightning, earlier on Friday. The jet was flying from Honolulu to Hilo. The damage appeared to be superficial. The jet flew back to Honolulu without passengers for a detailed inspection.