The sky is falling! Blizzard warning

Wow, we had an exciting 18 or so hours of weather!  Lucky that most of it was Sunday afternoon and night and not a weekday.  The blizzard warning that I was first learning about on Friday from mainlanders actually resulted in out-of-the-ordinary weather for us.  I think the reason it captured national attention was that the only blizzard warnings at the time were for Alaska and Hawai’i, nowhere else on the mainland.  And maybe some people think of a blizzard hitting the beach areas.  But our two highest peaks here are almost 14,000 feet high.  They usually get snow in the winter.  The New York Times article title, “Yes, There’s a Blizzard Warning in Hawaii.  No, It’s Not That Weird.” nicely described my reaction.

I think I was under-responding because mentally I lumped blizzard into winter storm warnings and didn’t pay much heed.  What happens on the (unpopulated) volcano summits doesn’t necessarily unusually impact us.  When the first snow fell on Maunakea a week ago we only got about 0.2 inches of rain.  But I just read that between 2010 and 2020, the National Weather Service in Honolulu issued an average of three winter storm warnings annually and five blizzard warnings in total.  The last blizzard was in March 2018.  

I remember a winter storm in February 2019 resulted in snow at 6200 feet in Maui.  And one wind gust on Maunakea measured at 191 mph.

This rare blizzard occurrence is caused by a Kona low, also called a Kona storm.   Our name is in it, but I don’t think we were as dramatically affected as elsewhere in the state.  Since Friday evening, we did finally get some spurts of rain, within the range of normal.  It rained in the mornings, which isn’t as common, and in the night.  The last three days were:  Friday 0.3 inches, Saturday 1.5 inches, Sunday 2.5 inches.  (Recall Thanksgiving 2020 was 5 inches of rain).  

But Sunday afternoon and night’s wind!  Hooo!  We heard some of our banana “trees” crack and fall and other loud noises.  We could see objects flying over and across our coffee farm.  It reminded me of the opening scene of the Wizard of Oz.  

The ocean looked amazingly dramatic.  Grey, undulating, rough, with the most white caps I’ve seen.  I thought of the Flying Dutchman opera.  [Aside:  Isn’t it amusing how I think of real life resembling fiction?  I grew up in Southern California.  When I first went to Europe, there were places that reminded me of Disneyland and Florida’s Epcot Center.  I’m laughing at myself.]  

We were tempted to drive to one of the shoreline areas we like for watching high surf crash into the cliffs.  But we thought it might be a Darwinian move and that there might also be falling or fallen trees on the road.  So we stayed put.

The brown water advisories are coming in.  “Rain has resulted in stormwater runoff entering into coastal waters. The public is advised to stay out of flood waters and storm water runoff due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer, manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals, and associated flood debris. Not all coastal areas may be impacted by runoff, however, if the water is brown stay out.” Yuck. First up was Maui, island-wide, on Friday, then island-wide for O’ahu, Hawai’i, and Kaua’i this morning.    

Some long-time/lifetime residents on the Nextdoor app were opining that these winds were the worst they’ve experienced here, even more than hurricane/tropical storm warning times.   My neighbor cousin said yesterday’s was the worst winds he’s experienced.  This is the same cousin who, one serious hurricane warning, hemmed and hawed about what precautions he should take.  In the end, the morning-of he bought plywood boards and nailed them over his windows.  There wasn’t a drop of rain and the air was still, not even the breeze of our usual trade winds.  (Hawaii’s hurricane season is roughly June 1 through November 30.)  

We lost power in the middle of last night, and it’s still out as I compose this offline.  It’s 6:00 pm now and the power lines are still lying on the road just north of the nearby rubbish transfer station.  I’m glad that just about two weeks ago we had a big autograph tree removed that was encircling a utility pole and about to reach the higher power lines.  We were hoping the electric company would remove it, but our patience gave out.   

Removed autograph tree, chipped and dumped near the bananas and our other compost pile.

Our ‘ulu coop neighbor had two big weed trees, autograph and African tulip, on our shared border come down onto our coffee.  They’re good neighbors.  I hear/see Ely the tree guy with his chain saw already removing the autograph tree.  These poor coffee trees.  The indignities they have to endure:  beetle, rust, drought, gusty winds, and giant trees toppling on top of them.

One thought on “The sky is falling! Blizzard warning

  1. Nice descriptive writing, Sharlene. I especially appreciated your recollections of fictional scenes and the term “Darwinian move.” Something akin to “spoiler alert” maybe should precede the brown water details. : ).
    –Jon

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