Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hawaii's severe weather different from mainland

February 3, 2015 ocean at boat harbor, Waianae, Hawaii
Hawaii weather news is seldom seen on the national news maps of severe conditions.  Is this because of its remoteness from the mainland or is this Pacific paradise getaway weather different from the mainland?

Those who visit Hawaii incidentally, especially during the winter months when the snow is falling in the East Coast and rainy, gray skies fill the news of West Coast weather, will find Hawaii pleasant and a welcome mat of beauty that seems to unfold just for them.  Upon returning from that vacation, honeymoon trip or excursion in transition from places like Asia, they will tell of the wonderful time in Hawaii, with its tropical breezes, friendly people and wonderful places to shop.  Add to that the wide expanse of beaches and an ocean that appears almost unlimited in its glorious and glowing span, and many people are thrilled just for the respite from severe weather from wherever they have been.

Each region of the earth has weather stories to tell, the good, the bad, the ugly when worst conditions hit the most.  Still feelings are as cultural as they are of how folks feel.  When winter comes, the old-time residents understand those conditions, minor as they seem to visitors abroad, can cause those bones to ache a bit and swimming put on hold.

But Hawaii has its severe weather, different from the mainland.  The snow that the mainland news reports most of the country in white, is not snow in populated areas but atop the high mountain peaks on the Big Island, where people can ski and revel in the newness of a sport few Hawaiians enjoy. For most of the local people, those born and raised on any of the islands,snow packed streets and temperatures below freezing are what they read or see on television, with the consistent exclamation, "Lucky we live Hawaii," that greets folks when the weather seems so bad everywhere else.

In fact weather reporters in Hawaii, like Guy Hagi on the KGMB evening news, nearly every day begins or ends his analysis of the weather with "the best weather on the planet" as the sum of all he said. And he often adds to his report whether the surf is up or down and when it might be wild. The reason for this type of news underlines again Hawaii's standing as one of the world's best places to surf, described as a surfing mecca for those who look for ways to ride the wild and wind-filled waves.

So what is that severe weather Hawaii has that differs from the mainland?  After all, there are hurricanes, tropical storms and rains that come at certain seasons, and, of course, the vog, the mix of volcanic material that blows from the active mountain tops on the Big Island in the chain.

It is winter in Hawaii.  Late in November until the beginning of spring, long-time Hawaii residents notice the changes in conditions visitors might not see or feel.  And that's because in many ways, what drives the weather reports is surf, the kind that people love to ride high atop the waves.

As I write this article today, the predicted temperature for Oahu is a high of 72 degrees and a low of 63.  The lower reading is for evening hours, when folks feel a dip, imperceptibly at first, then cover up with blankets when it is time to go to bed.  That means the thick one kept under the bed for severe weather times.  Today may have some sprinkles, the Hawaii version of rain that comes almost every day, somewhere on the island's chain.  But when the rain is focused for more than a little while, it becomes that severe weather that locals talk about. It means the surfers might want to wait for another sunny day.

Along with that the winds can come, along with weather conditions that occur in the Pacific waters that surrounds Hawaii, a series of islands in a chain extending further from any other land surface  anywhere in the world.  So news reports include the trade winds, because they make the difference in just how folks might feel, those sometimes subtle differences when old-time residents will start to speak of cold. When the conversation makes its way to windy island ways, the mainland folks will roll their eyes to think it's funny talk.  Yet for the local people, the lack of trade winds means the heat and humidity will be uncomfortable enough to seek a cooling fan.  Or even more in keeping with the feelings folks can get, an air conditioner is turned on the hot parts of the day.

In winter winds are stronger, rains increase a bit; and temperatures are colder in the night.  Relative to other climes, they may not seem so much.  However, they can surely make the surfer feel chagrined, despite the fact the intrepid ones are seen in surf and waves.  Along Makaha beaches, when the red flags are put up, one sees the surfers floating by as swimmers leave the surf.

The hurricanes the mainland national weather reports that happen in Hawaii, are seldom seen by local folk; and most of them are not at all the way they were predicted.  2014 hurricanes hit some areas of the Big Island, causing them to reach emergency status and apply for Federal funds.  The rest of the weather problems happened with far less fervor than reported, even after people stocked their cupboards with weeks of water jugs, while people smiled with some relief, and knowledge all the same.  The hurricane or tsunami news is rare enough, but danger signs and signals from the mainland forecast folk

After 40 years of travel to and from Hawaii and consistent living nearly 28 of those years, a journalist still smiles a bit when it is time for weather news.  For listening and watching those who live here clearly know that what is severe weather is likely pleasant for most folks, who visit from the U.S. East and other places in the world.

 For the sun comes up in the winter, and throughout the year, including January, in months where weather conditions worldwide can often get quite stormy.

Lucky I live Hawaii.  Wish I could share it most of you, today and every day the weather is bad somewhere, for no matter where you live, you would find the climate here just as Guy Hagi, KGMB's weather man says, "best weather on the planet."
January 2013


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