hawaii: weather Archives

December 5, 2007

a wild and windy night

It certainly was a wild and windy night last night. Pretty much everyone awoke between 3:00 & 3:30 AM from the sound of the rain and the wind. There were power failures, fallen trees, fallen telephone polls, roofs blowing off and/or damaged, roads completely closed, rain and lots and lots of wind. In some places the wind was said to be hurricane strength and for some there was more damage from this storm than from our past two hurricanes. There are parts of the island that may not get their power back until Thursday or Friday and places where roads are still closed. On Oahu, the North Shore and the Leeward side were hit the hardest with the Windward side also suffering a lot of damage.

After the storm began, I was not able to go back to sleep. About 5 am, the local news came on. The first thing announced was "stay home" and "do not go out on the roads unless you have to". Now wouldn't that suggest that all the public schools would be closed? At 5:30 the school closures began to be announced and then a few minutes later the cable went out. I got out my mini radio and tuned in. I had flashes of my childhood days when my family would all gather around the radio and wait to hear if our school would be closed when we had a big snowstorm. No, I am not too old to have not had TV, but the school closures were always announced on the radio. All the schools nearby were always closed but rarely was our school closed. I think I learned my alphabetizing skills from listening to the list of schools as they were announced. If our school was not announced as closed the first time around, we would refuse to get dressed, hoping that it would be announced the second or third time around. My brother and sister and I were always so bummed once they passed over the letter "N". My mom was always thrilled!

This morning 83 public schools and tons more private schools were closed, but not my school. I guess I should count my lucky blessings. Although I did have the wonderful fortune to spend 40 minutes moving one mile in traffic, my school was not damaged and my part of the island only suffered minor damage.

The storm that hit us last night is now headed for the Big Island. There is even a blizzard watch posted for Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa! A flash flood watch also remains in effect through Thursday for the entire state.

The Daily Dish Honolulu Advertiser blog has a pretty good description of the storm with pictures and comments from many around the island. Check out the pictures of the tree in Kapiolani park!

Here is another picture of the same tree from the Honolulu Advertiser site:

I feel for all those in Washington State and Oregon right now. At least we didn't have the flooding they are dealing with.

December 12, 2007

snow day!!

We had a "SNOW DAY" today at school! In Hawaii, a "snow day" means snow will be delivered to your school instead of school is canceled due to snow. Twenty tons of "snow" were ordered and delivered early this morning. After all the rain we have had recently, I was worried about the weather. Fortunately, it turned out to be a beautiful day with rainbows in the sky. The temperature was about 80 degrees. A perfect day for snow!

After the first 10 tons of snow were dumped, the first scheduled, Preschool, Kindergarten, and Grade One came out to play. Each class took a class picture and then everyone went wild!! Santa also stopped by for a visit.

Halfway through our scheduled time, the second truckload of snow arrived. The timing of the arrival worked out perfectly as the students were able to see the snow being dumped. As the truck prepared to dump the snow, the students chanted "dump it, dump it!" and then squealed with delight as the snow was dumped in another big pile.

Channel 9 News came to our school and showed a quick clip of our Snow Day on the evening news, but it hasn't been posted on their website. If they do post it, I will do an update and add the video clip. Below are some snow shots (without students).

Beautiful December morning in Hawaii at my school:


Continue reading "snow day!!" »

January 30, 2008

snow on Maui

I don't expect any sympathy but it has been pretty chilly in Hawaii the past few weeks. Yes, I know I am a wimp! Thank goodness for fleece! I don't know what the Hawaiians did way back when without the warm clothes we have today.

On the Big Island, it hailed in Kona yesterday and snow covered the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It even snowed on Haleakala on Maui! This is a very rare occurrence that only happens every three to five years. The forecast for today was for more snow flurries and possibly heavy snow today and into tomorrow night on Mauna Kea with possible snow on Mauna Loa and Haleakala. The KHON2 site described our weather the best: Wacky Wintry Weather Hit Hawaii.

Here is a picture of Haleakala from today's Star Bulletin article:

March 10, 2008


Volcanic smog

The U.S. Geological Survey defines vog as:
Noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other pollutants emitted from Kilauea Volcano on the Island of Hawai`i react with oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce volcanic smog (vog) and acid rain.

They also list some of the physical complaints directly related to vog exposure. Headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments, watery eyes, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, and a general lack of energy.

The vog mainly hangs out on the Big Island, but for the past month or so, the entire island chain has been experiencing heavy vog. A couple of weeks ago, the mountains were barely visable on my drive into work and this was first thing in the morning. Usually the vog does not become thick until later in the day. This afternoon when driving home, the sky was the strangest color blue. If I didn't live here, I would not have known that there were mountains nearby.

The air has been so thick with this vog for days and days now. My chest feels like there is a brick on it. Everyone at work is getting sick. I am positive the vog had a direct impact on my getting sick last weekend. I had every symptom above and still am having a difficult time breathing. I rarely use my inhaler but recently it has been my best friend. I don't think I could ever live on the Big Island.

Vog...go away!!!

Dense vog as seen from Hilo Bay, Hawai‘i (click on the photo for more info on vog)

May 16, 2008


The vog has hung over the islands a few times this year. It has returned once again this week. Many are saying that this week's vog has been the worst ever. It is a very eery feeling when you can't see landmarks that you know are there. Yesterday morning while driving to work, the mountains looked more like shadows and Diamond Head was barely visible. I can't even imagine what it is like on the Big Island right now.

Photo taken from Kaimuki by George F. Lee. (photo is linked to the article)
Caption under the photo: "Volcanic haze blanketed Honolulu for a second day yesterday, obscuring the cityscape and natural landscape."

*Update: The mountains have disappeared!! I couldn't even see the shadows today while driving to work. Did Locke hit the wrong button and move the mountains instead of the island??

November 19, 2008


I stayed late at work today. When I opened my door to leave my classroom, I was greeted with this beautiful rainbow. I went back into my classroom and grabbed my camera (not a great camera but it did the job).

I couldn't decide on just one photo...



December 11, 2008

torrential rain, flooding, and power outages

Quoting part of today's Star Bulletin article: STORM PUMMELS OAHU

Schools are closed, power is out, homes are flooded and traffic is a mess.

Torrential rain overnight and this morning flooded scores of homes on Oahu, closed roads and dozens of schools, knocked out power and shut the Arizona Memorial.

More than 10 inches of rain fell at Makaha Stream in the 24 hours that ended at 8 a.m., and more than 4 inches of that fell between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.

(photo from the Honolulu Advertiser - click on the photo to see more amazing photos)

I am so thankful that I did not have to deal with the traffic nightmare today. I wasn't feeling well, so I stayed home from work. A little after seven this morning the power went out. I couldn't find any news on the power outage on the radio. I decided to call the electric company. That was when I realized that I had no way to look up the number. I don't keep phone books anymore since it is just as easy to look up the phone number on the internet. Then I remembered that there are phone numbers on the electric bills. After finding the number, I called. Not much info from them either. The only info other than what areas were experiencing outages was that they were working on it.

Around noontime, once the rain stopped, I decided to go to the nearby grocery store, hoping generators would keep the store open, to get a couple of bags of ice and some lunch.

About a third of the parking lot was flooded. I thought of Annie and the acqua alta in Venice. All the stores in the little shopping complex were open. All the lights were on. It was very busy inside the grocery store. I asked one of the girls if the store was running on generators. She looked at me surprised by my question and said they never lost power. How did that happen? I live so close, probably 5-10 minutes walking distance. The entrance to my townhouse complex is adjacent to the driveway of the shopping area. So close and yet so far.

I bought some sushi, chips, and two bags of ice. My hope was if I bought the ice, the power would come back on (sort of like if you wash your car, it will rain). Wishful thinking! I put one bag of ice in the freezer and one in the refrigerator and then transferred everything perishable to the freezer.

I called the electric company again. Less areas with power outages, but mine was still top on the list. No other information available.

Nine hours later, the electricity came back on at 4:24 pm. The neighbors cheered.

Right after the electricity came on, the wind kicked up and the rain began to fall again. More rain is predicted all night. I wonder what it will be like driving to work tomorrow. I hope I don't lose electricity again.

Things that I learned:
1. Get ice right away if possible and pack everything perishable in the freezer. The
food should last longer that way.
2. Have more food available that does not need to be refrigerated.
3. Have a phone book available.
4. Charge the iPod touch whenever the battery is low.
5. Make sure to have a good book available and alternate lighting (it was pretty dark
all day with the storm outside).
6. I am clearly not prepared for a hurricane.
Things I am grateful for:
1. I did not have to drive to work today.
2. I have a dry roof over my head.
3. My townhouse complex was not flooded.
4. There was no wind damage to my place.
5. My car is safe.
6. The grocery store was open.
7. My shower had hot water.
8. I did not buy all the ingredients yet to make batches of cookies (which I would now have to throw out)
9. It was not too hot and humid today (since no power for fans)
10. My electricity is back on!!

December 13, 2008

rain rain go away

The weather is crazy here!! It started pouring again this morning. The wind is howling. Here is a photo of the damage on Kunia Road from Thursday's rain.
(photo linked to the Honolulu Advertiser article)

CLICK HERE to see a slideshow of more amazing photos from the storm (including a couple of cool waterfall shots). Place your mouse near the top of each photo to see the description for each photo.

Yesterday the weather was calm most of the day. The skies began to turn black late in the afternoon just as I was heading to to an appointment.
When I finished, it was raining, but not too bad. The scary part though was the thunder and lightning, which is pretty rare here in Hawaii. Ever since I was little, I have always freaked out during thunder and lightning storms. Driving in one is definitely not one of my favorite things to do. Other than that, the traffic gods were looking out for me because I made it to the shopping center near my house pretty quickly (which is a miracle even on a sunny day).

Just as I stopped at Long’s Drugs, the sky opened up and it started to pour buckets, so hard that it sounded like pellets hitting my windshield. I ran into the store, still managing to get soaking wet even though I parked right near the store. As I was looking for some little containers for cookies in the back of the store, the lights went out. It was pitch black! Everyone in the store gasped loudly. The lights came back on pretty quickly, but those few seconds seemed like minutes while it was pitch black in the store. This little boy near me was very freaked out.

The news last night showed that the road into and out of my town was closed due to flooding. It must have happened during the downpour that started when I reached the store near my house.

I read that the traffic was backed up for miles on the freeway before the exit. I am sooooo glad I made it home before the rain started again. The traffic gods were definitely looking out for me yesterday. The weather is still crazy this morning. Let’s hope the power gods will do the same!

December 28, 2008

in the dark

9583718_BG1.jpgEarly Friday evening, as I drove over to a nearby school to drop off a couple of bags of recycling stuff, a few pretty wild bolts of lightning lit up in the sky. Lightning is pretty rare here in Hawaii. I could barely hear the thunder, so I assumed storm had to be far off in the distance.

The photo to the left was taken by Dave Weil of Wahiawa. I found this photo on the KHNL news website. (photo is linked to the source and an article about the power outage).

About 30 minutes after I returned home, a little after 7 pm, everything went black. At first, I figured it would only be out for a few minutes. After about 15 minutes, I thought that it was probably just my area of the island that was out. I watched a DVD on my computer to pass the time, still thinking that the power would be back on pretty soon. Two hours later, when my laptop was running out of juice, I decided to call the electric company to find out what was going on. I was surprised to learn that the entire island was in the dark. I found my radio and was grateful to find a few stations reporting what was going on.

HECO, the electric company, was saying something about four lines being tripped which caused the entire system to shut down. All the stations were saying to expect the power to be out throughout the night. The last time power went out island wide was October 15, 2006 when an earthquake hit the Big Island.

Because the entire island lost power, that meant that President-elect Obama, who is vacationing here with his family, also lost power. The mayor was in contact with his staff. Obama was safe at his Kailua rental. He was offered a generator but declined the help saying that they were planning to go to bed early and would be just fine.

I was much better prepared this time than I was two weeks earlier. I still had a big bag of ice and a half full bag of ice in the freezer. The very cool flashlight app on my new iPod touch came in handy helping me navigate in the dark. I listened to the radio for while, and then went to bed. I unplugged all of my electronic equipment but did leave all the light switches on hoping that in case the power come back on in the middle of the night, I would wake up since my refrigerated perishables were now in the freezer… and at 3:13 in the morning, the power came back. The lights woke me up as planned. My area of the island was one of the first to get electricity back. I was very grateful to have power again. I checked the Honolulu Advertiser for the latest news. Only a few areas were back up. I even got electricity back before Obama did! He got his back about 6 am. Some areas didn't get their power back until last night and a few people were out until this morning. A few areas even lost water for a while.

While the power was out island wide, traffic was crazy and there were many delays and cancellations at the airport. Some people ended up sleeping there overnight. Not fun. At least the weather was warm here. The scariest thing I read was that a Hawaiian Airline jet was struck by lightning. The jet landed safely but that must have been pretty scary!

Below are a few more photos of Oahu during the lightning storm and in the dark. The first two photos came from the Star Bulletin. I can't seem to find the first photo anymore to add the correct link. The second photo is linked to the article which is linked to more photos of the outage (where I found the second photo).


I'm not sure how the Christmas tree lights stayed on during the blackout.

The third and fourth photos are from the Honolulu Advertiser. Both are linked to the power outage article where I found these photos.



*Edited to add...since moving to Hawaii, I have only lost power three times that I can remember for more than a few hours - twice in the past couple of weeks and the day of the Big Island earthquake two years ago. I can't remember now if I lost electricity where I was during Hurricane Iniki. The news of this outage probably would not have even made national news if Obama was not vacationing here. Our last storm which caused much more damage than this power outage never made national news.

They are still not sure what caused this island wide power outage. Originally, it was thought that it was due to a direct lightning strike, but no damage was found to any of the lines or equipment.

January 18, 2009

the big chill

ani-brrr.gifBrrrr!!! It was downright chilly here last night. I will refrain from using the word "freezing" as I am well aware of the icy, bitter, hypothermic cold temperatures many of you (except softdrink) are enduring.

It was 58 degrees at 1 am last night and with the temperature dropping even lower to 54 degrees in my neighborhood over night. That is teeth chattering COLD weather for us whimps here in Hawaii. It rarely drops below 60 degrees here. Remember now, we do not have heat. The best we can do is close our windows to try to keep some of the the cold out. Now, I am not expecting any sympathy from anyone experiencing the frigid temperatures everywhere else. I just wanted to share the latest weather news here in Hawaii.

Stay warm everyone. I will be cozy warm under my down comforter tonight and for the next few nights until it warms up again. Heading off to find my fleece socks to warm up my toes.

February 12, 2009

rare tornado touched down on Oahu yesterday

A funnel cloud turned into a rare tornado yesterday afternoon, touching down and racing across a section of the Kapolei Golf Course. The tornado injured one person and caused minor property damage.

(photo from the Honolulu Advertiser)

Tornadoes are rare occurrences here in Hawaii. According to the Honolulu Advertiser article, "The state gets one to two tornadoes a year.... Yesterday's was the 11th reported since 2000. The last occurred Dec. 13 on Kaua'i near Hanap'p', Ballard said. Before that, there was one on Lana'i in 2006."

I have personally experienced two funnel clouds while living in Hawaii, but thankfully never a tornado. My first experience occurred about 17 years ago while I was teaching in a special education resource room. My classroom had doors and glass windows on both sides of the room, which I usually left open during the day. Right before the funnel cloud came storming through my classroom, I was scolding some of my students about playing around in class. Just as I finished scolding them, a big gust of wind came racing through my classroom in a swirling motion. As the funnel cloud entered my room, the windows on that side all loudly slammed shut one after another. The papers on the students' desks swirled up in the air in a circular fashion and then the gust of wind exited the other side with the windows on that side loudly slamming shut again one after another in a domino fashion. My kids were really spooked! They all sat there saying “whoa!” as their mouths hung open in disbelief. I was also pretty spooked. It was as if a ghost came storming through our classroom. I of course took advantage of the moment saying something about how this might have happened because they were not behaving. I can't remember exactly what I said but whatever I said, it sure worked. They sat up like little soldiers and were the best behaved students for the rest of the day.

My second experience happened while I was driving home about 15 years ago. I saw this swirling red cloud of dust and dirt heading right towards me as I was driving. I was pretty freaked out since I had no where to go. The big swirling cloud of dust approached the front of my car and then passed right over my car. It was loud and pretty scary. It scratched up both the roof and the hood of my car.

I forgot all about both of these very spooky experiences until I saw this story yesterday on the news.

October 9, 2012


vog • air pollution caused by volcanic emissions

From Wikipedia: Vog is a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. The word is a portmanteau of the words "volcanic" and "smog".

The U.S. Geological Survey defines vog as: Noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other pollutants emitted from Kilauea Volcano on the Island of Hawai`i react with oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce volcanic smog (vog) and acid rain.

Common symptoms related to vog:
• Headaches
• Breathing difficulties
• Increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments
• Watery eyes
• Sore throat
• General lack of energy

We are told to stay inside, drink lots of water, and avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.

October for most means cooler temperatures. For some, downright chilly temperatures. For us in Hawaii, it means hot, muggy days. October is almost always one of the hottest months of our year partly because the trade winds for some reason usually die during October. We also have more voggy days when the trade winds die and the southerly winds take over.

Today has been one of the worst days of vog that we have experienced in the past few years. This morning the vog was so thick that it was as if the mountains had disappeared.

My eyes feel like there are tiny pieces of glass in them. My throat hurts. It is hard to breathe. They say the vog should end soon. Fingers are crossed!

Still, there is a blessing we are given whenever we experience a voggy day. Beautiful sunrises & sunsets. I happened to be on the road this evening when I noticed the bright orange sun starting to set in the sky. By the time I was able to get to a beach, the sun had disappeared, but I was still able to capture the beauty in the sky.






At one point, the blurry icon on my little compact camera started blinking because it was getting darker outside. I set my camera down on top of one of a group of four round stone garbage cans to steady it so my photos would not come out as blurry. After taking a couple of photos, I heard a noise that made me jump and freaked me out a little bit. There was some sort of creature inside one of the trash cans making a noise. Not sure if it was a rat or some other critter. I let out a scream and did not stay to find out.

For more on the vog, you can check out two of my previous posts here and here.

*I know I have not been around much lately. Life is good for me. I hope it is for you also. I am just trying to be more in the moment and spend less time on the internet. I do continue to follow everyone's blogs. I just have not been commenting much.

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