Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stormy Nights in Hawai'i

Most people believe the weather in Hawai'i is perfect all the time. That's an urban legend. In fact, it's only perfect about 340 days a year.

We do get occasional storm fronts and "cold fronts". I put "cold fronts" in quotes because our cold fronts aren't very cold, but they usually bring rain.

We've had almost-monsoon conditions for the last two or 3 days. Here on Maui, roads were washed out and the runway lights at Kahului Airport went out for an entire evening, stranding several thousand tourists for the night. I'm sure any airport in the other 49 States would have failed over to Emergency Power in an instant, but Hawai'i has infrastructure only slightly more advanced than, say, Haiti. On O'ahu, extremely rare lightning strikes brought down the power grid for the entire island. Initially, there was more-than-usual concern about this, because President-Elect Obama is vacationing on O'ahu's North Shore. I'm sure the Secret Service were shitting bricks, but everyone else calmed down about it when Obama himself - in his characteristic laid-back style - yawned about it and said (paraphrasing) "well, I guess I'll hit the hay a few hours early tonight. See ya.".

Over on The Big Island, there was a major blizzard on the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea yesterday, each of which are slightly above 14,000 feet. Blizzards in the winter are common over there, but somehow the juxtaposition of a blizzard within sight of people surfing and walking barefoot on the nearby beach is just too exotic for many people to grasp.

The above photo is of the Gemini Dome, the observatory on top of Mauna Kea, this morning.

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