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Hawaii Weather
2 December 2007

SunRain

Clouds For most people December means shorter days and cooler weather, maybe even snow in time for Christmas.  Here in Kona coffee country the opposite is true, winter is our dry season which means fewer clouds and sunnier days.  To demonstrate this I managed to get a good sunburn the other day while working outside in our hot, sunny, winter weather.  I doubt Santa will bring us any snow, maybe he'll bring me some sunscreen instead.

Sunburn In general our weather doesn't vary all that much from day to day.  Without looking I can tell you tomorrow's weather forecast:  "Mostly sunny with possible afternoon showers.  Highs in the 80s and lows in the 70s."  That's pretty much our forecast every day.  Spring is a little wetter and winter is a little dryer but it can be sunny or rainy any day of the year.  The consistent combination of sunny mornings and cloudy afternoons is great for growing plump, healthy Kona coffee beans.  It's one of the main reasons Kona coffee is so special.

Hawaii is known for consistently mild weather but that doesn't mean the weather is boring.  It can be sunny and hot one minute then pouring buckets the next then sunny again a few minutes later.  It can be sunny in the back field but raining in the front field.  More than once I've stood in the rain and looked down the mountain to the sunny beaches below.

Hurricanes are probably the scariest possible weather but it doesn't take a hurricane to create havoc around here.  The other day a large group of thunderstorms rolled through causing all sorts of problems.  I don't remember any warning from the weatherman and the entire morning was calm and sunny.  The clouds rolled in around noon as usual but by one o'clock we had thunder, lightning and torrential downpours.  There were several lightning strikes directly overhead.  I watched sparks dance along the electric lines as the lights dimmed, went out for several seconds, then came back on.  Eventually the electricity went out completely and wasn't restored until the following morning.  If we hadn't unplugged the computers they surely would have been damaged.  The heavy rains washed out our driveway and a few miles away some people had to be rescued from their cars when they were caught in flooding.

Extreme weather here is compounded by the fact that we're on an island with a relatively small infrastructure.  There's only one road around the island and it was closed for most of the day.  With the road closed nobody could get anywhere.  Even the school buses were stranded so some kids were stuck in their classrooms until after dinner when the road was finally reopened.

The storm disappeared nearly as fast as it had arrived.  After dark the sky was crystal clear with the stars shining as bright as ever.  The next day was sunny and calm in the morning with scattered clouds in the afternoon.  It was back to business as usual.  Hawaii seems to save up all the bad weather, deliver it in a single unexpected blow, then act like nothing happened.

Weather isn't the only excitement here, a few minutes ago we had an earthquake.  This earthquake was a magnitude 3.9 and it was only four miles away.  We get a lot of earthquakes.  This one was just a few quick jolts with do damage.  Being so close sure will get your attention though.

The volcano has been quiet and there haven't been any tsunami warnings recently but it's only a matter of time.  There's no telling when the next storm or earthquake will be.  Until then it's back to sunny mornings with possible afternoon showers, highs in the 80s and lows in the 70s.  I suppose I should find my sunscreen.

Downpour



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