Life on the Island is Interesting

Hawaiian advisories for 16Sep2015
Active advisories for Sep 16, 2015. Tsunami, flash flooding or stormy seas, take your pick.
This is getting downright ridiculous. Over the last few weeks we have had multiple flash floods, a few hurricanes wander by, and a tsunami come ashore. Admittedly none of the hurricanes have come directly in, missing the island. The tsunami was only about a meter and no damage has been reported. The flooding has caused some property damage and a lot of cleanup has been required. Aliʻi drive is a mess again as are several other roadways. An interesting summer.

As if hurricanes, earthquakes, flash floods and tsunami are not enough, the USGS just raised the alert level for Mauna Loa to advisory/yellow.

At least it went around us!

Predicted hurricane tracks continue to be the subject of conversation around the islands. The latest now shows Jimena curving back at the islands, when the predictions from five days ago showed the storm tracking off to the far north. Really?

At least it missed our island. Now it is the residents of Oahu and Kauai that need to worry.

Hurricane Jimena Prediction
The predicted course of Hurricane Jimena, 5 Sep 2015

Hurricanes all Around

The satellite views of the central Pacific are endlessly fascinating. Three major hurricanes surround the Hawaiian Islands. Social media continues to buzz, with re-posts of the imagery.

So far only minor effects in the islands… Major surf on the northern and eastern shorelines, closed beach parks, and lousy observing weather keeping the telescopes shuttered.

Central Pacific Hurricanes
Three hurricanes in the central Pacific, GOES West 4km IR image from 2Sep2015

A Few Storms

A beautiful image from the NOAA-NASA GOES Project of a full disk Earth. Off to the west of the islands you can see the re-formed Hurricane Kilo, to our immediate east if Ignacio, with Jimena right behind. The forecast calls for tropical storm force winds to begin on the island as soon as tonight. Also visible is an active region of thunderstorms off the Mexican coast, the spawning ground for the next hurricane.

Click on the image for full glory!

Three Pacific hurricanes visible in this full disk weather image from the NOAA-NASA GOES Project
Three Pacific hurricanes visible in this full disk weather image from the NOAA-NASA GOES Project

The 2015 El Niño Event

The intensifying El Niño event in the Pacific is looking to be the strongest event of the last 50 years. Some news outlets have dubbed it the “Godzilla” El Niño.

Officially referred to as ENSO, or El Niño Southern Ocsillation, this event is a period of dramatically warm surface water temperatures that occurs across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. These events usually alternate with periods of cooler temperatures, or La Niña events, and can have dramatic effects on weather across the globe.

The immediate effects of the warming water are already being felt… Water temperatures around the islands are at least 2°C above normal, pushing our normally cool water into near bathtub temperatures. Local divers are commenting on the warm water temperatures, those who normally wear wet suits are comfortable without.

This warm water is also fueling the series of hurricanes sweeping past the islands. The storms just keep coming. It will be an interesting year!

Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly
Sea surface temperature anomaly charts for August 2015

Here we go yet again…

It looks like yet another hurricane is coming this way, the island squarely in the predicted path. The seemingly endless series of storms passing through is making the 2015 hurricane season one of the most active on record.

Ignacio is expected to become a major storm, crossing the island as a full hurricane. If that is not enough we have Jimena further out and following a similar track. No one expects that to be the end of the series either, with sea water temperatures well above normal and continuing to warm there will be further storms.

I am truly grateful we live on the leeward side of the island, sheltered from the worst of the effects of these storms. A 14,000ft mountain standing between our house and the oncoming hurricane. I do worry about our many friends who live on the other side of the island.

As the storm nears and if it becomes apparent that the island will be hit we will perform our last minute storm preparations, fill the water jugs and secure the lanai furniture. Everything else is already done, held over from the last storm, plenty of emergency supplies and propane on-hand.

Hurricane Ignacio Prediction
The predicted path of Hurricane Ignacio as of 27 Aug 2015

A Lot of Rain

The past two weeks have seen a great deal of precipitation over normally dry Kohala grasslands. Over three inches at the house last week and another three over the last few days from the remains of tropical storm Kilo.  This amounts to over half our normal annual rainfall for Waikoloa.  The result has been hot muggy weather that has everyone complaining.

No sign of it letting up either.  Tropical depression 12E has graduated into tropical storm Ignacio with a probable path that includes the island.  Looking at the sea temperature anomaly maps gives a possible reason, the forming El Nino is stronger than expected, surprisingly warm.  Life will be interesting.

Rain From Tropical Storm Kilo
Our rain gauge showing over three inches from tropical storm Kilo

Ana Has Passed Us By

Hurricane Ana brought nothing more than a day of soaking rain to our part of the island. It was the lack of wind that was striking, with the hurricane directly offshore we had calm conditions. There was some flooding and moderate winds along the Kaʻu coast. Not much word on damage, I suspect it was minimal, nothing like what would have happened if the storm had followed the original forecast track.

A new week has begin, time to see what next adventure life will bring…

Hurricane Ana 19Oct2014
Hurricane Ana as it appeared at 3pm 16Oct2014, 4km IR image from GEOS-West