Storms Coming – Tie Down the Malt!

This week, Hawaii faces an unusual and ominous weather phenomenon; namely, we have two hurricanes lined up to pass over the islands within three days of each other.

This is Hurricane Iselle, currently about 1,000 miles east of Hawaii, on track to land on Thursday on the Big Island.

This is Hurricane Iselle, currently about 1,000 miles east of Hawaii, on track to land on Thursday on the Big Island.

The first puffer, named Hurricane Iselle, is expected to down grade from the current Category 4 designation to a tropical storm by the time it arrives on Thursday evening.

However, hot on Iselle’s figuratively rainy heels is Hurricane Julio which will likely strike down by the schoolyard on Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane.

Look how close Hurricane Julio is to Iselle. This is the more threatening of the two storms headed our way.

Look how close Hurricane Julio is behind Iselle. This is the more threatening of the two storms headed our way.

Here’s how the storm categories stack up in terms of wind strength:

Tropical Storm – winds 39-73 mph
Category 1 – winds 74-95 mph
Category 2 – winds 96-110 mph
Category 3 – winds 111-129 mph
Category 4 – winds 130-156 mph
Category 5 – winds 157 mph and up

The first officially recognized hurricane in Hawaiian waters was Hurricane Hiki in August of 1950.

Since 1950 five hurricanes or tropical storms have caused serious damage in Hawaii. Hurricane Nina (1957) produced record winds in Honolulu. Hurricane Dot (1959) caused damage to Kauai.

Hurricane Estelle (1986) produced very high surf on Hawaii and Maui and floods on Oahu. Kauai also received the brunt of Hurricane Iwa, which struck on 23 November 1982 and produced an estimated $234 million in damage.

Snapshot of Hurricane Iniki on Kauai in 1992. Credit to University of Hawaii - SOEST

Snapshot of Hurricane Iniki on Kauai in 1992. Credit to University of Hawaii – SOEST

The destructive force of hurricanes in Hawaii was powerfully demonstrated on 11 September 1992 when Hurricane Iniki struck the island of Kauai with sustained winds of 130 mph and caused over $2.3 billion in property damage.

For awhile the common lore was that Hawaii gets a damaging hurricane every ten years. The TV talking heads constantly remind us “we are due” for a frog strangler. This is an El Nino year and the waters around the central Pacific are warmer than usual which results in more storms and storms of greater intensity.

For anyone who would like to track the storms, I highly recommend the website operated by the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), a fabulous source of information on all things meteorological in Hawaii. Here’s the direct link to the storm tracking section.

Small white dog is not thrilled to hear about hurricanes.

Small white dog is not thrilled to hear about hurricanes.

Folks are busy with preparations and precautions.

In Hawaii the mere threat of a big storm will send the residents in droves to the big box retailers to stock up on what we view as essentials: toilet paper, rice, SPAM, Vienna sausage, beer and bottled water.

The Alpha Japanese Female and I avoid panic buying – this isn’t our first rodeo after all – but we typically fill the car’s tank, get fresh batteries for the flashlights, stock up on extra beer (of course) and generally make sure we can hunker down and provide for ourselves for 3 days or so.

Hawaii retailers anticipate the demand. This wall of Spam will be gone by end of today.

Hawaii retailers anticipate the demand. This wall of Spam will be gone by end of today.

So we’re in good shape including plenty of kibble. But this is not going to be a good weekend for our many visitors.

The hotels have sophisticated emergency programs in place to care for guests and protect them from danger but that is scant comfort when you’ve spent big bucks for your Hawaii dream vacation or have beach wedding plans.

For now we have a wait and see attitude. The storms could veer away, they could build in intensity or diminish. It’s too soon to get a good feel for what the next few days will bring.

Both the AJF and I are veterans of Pacific typhoons far, far more powerful than the ones headed our way – we survived Super Typhoon Pamela in 1976 when it hit Guam with winds over 200 mph.

The survival technique then practiced in Guam (as well as Okinawa and other Pacific Islands) was to hole up in the bathroom with gallon jugs of cheap Akadama Port Wine and sip it throughout the ordeal which could last for hours.

Advertising for Akadama Port Wine. The giant bottles were called Typhoon Fifths for good reason.

Advertising for Akadama Port Wine. This lass smiled at us through many a Pacific storm.

The bottles were popularly called “Typhoon Fifths” and the story goes that the hangover was worse than any hurt the storm could inflict.

With a little luck this storm series will be mostly a rain event and we’ll escape very high winds. The idea of winds over 100 mph is not especially appealing to dwellers in high floor condos with floor to ceiling glass walls.

As for the Malt, we’ll get some bricks to tie to his feet when he goes for pee walks so he doesn’t blow away.

Or perhaps we’ll just lash him to a coconut tree and recreate a cheesy old Hollywood movie.

More later as things develop…

The 1937 classic movie poster.

The 1937 classic movie poster.

20 replies

  1. It seems like a female “K” is the next one. Watch out, if the name is “Kyla”, a category 5 is nothing. I’ve been told I’m a “10”!


  2. Hope The Alpha Japanese Female and you are okay and not forced to eat Spam products or drink port wine. I’ve never been thru a hurricane. Keep safe!


      • I see you retain your high spirits and sense of perspective. Tell me: we live in a drought and our water bill base rate is $100. So if you use no water, it’s $100, and then it goes up for each drop. How is it on your island, since you are surrounded by water?


        • Well, all that water around us is pretty salty so it doesn’t have much effect on our potable water prices. Hawaii is unique is that the islands act like a giant sponge to absorb the significant amounts of rain that fall in our mountains. But the longer term sustainability of our water resources is a big concern especially as the population grows, more lands are developed and usage increases. Our water bills are actually quite reasonable but we pay a lot for sewer fees which makes sense because we have to process the waste before dumping it back in the ocean.


          • At this point desalinization is possible but, as you say, crazy wild expensive on any large scale basis. There are a couple of businesses that pump seawater up from thousands of feet below the surface and then desalinate it and sell it as a boutique bottled water at silly prices in Japan.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. A hurricane beach wedding! Get the insurance right and the surviving party could live in luxury ever after…
    Don’t envy Max having to take you out after a few fifths of the port wine though…lucky he’s a resourceful little chap.

    Stay safe, all of you.


      • We’ve spotted a white Maltese looking dog at our local beach whose tail has been dyed rainbow colours. My 8 year old daughter loves it but I wasn’t quite so sure. perhaps, Max could give it a try. It would certainly get them talking in your neighborhood.


        • I’ve written about attempts by our dog groomer, the lovely Miss Nanako, to insert bows and frills into Max’s ear hair. Suffice it to say that whilst I accept my pooch as a frou-frou dog I draw the line at bows in his hair. I simply cannot endure the pity I see in the eyes of fellow male dog walkers and the smug certainty that the ladies project secure in the knowledge that I am a “trained spouse.”


    • Right back at ya. I think you guys have a higher risk profile. We don’t see big storms often and in this case the threat seems to be diminishing as the hurricanes pass over cooler water and lose their oomph.


    • Thanks for the kind thoughts. I’m not very concerned because the storm intensity seems to be getting less over time and the courses of the storms are veering a bit south for Iselle and north for Julio. The local retailers are racking up record sales, there’s much twittering and reading of entrails and the TV news people are busy making dire predictions to sell air time.


  4. Hope you are all okay. A hurricane is in a whole different league to the usual kind of storms that stress dogs out. We used to have a Border Collie who would jump our side gate in storms or fireworks and then get lost. We added an Old English Sheepdog and he was crazy at the best of times and mental health issues doesn’t begin to describe the mad mutt in a storm. He used to run round and round the kitchen table in circles hyperventilating and almost frothing at the mouth. Fortunately our current dogs are much more chilled. It’s a big relief.


    • For us on Oahu the hurricane was no problem at all. We were very lucky to have dodged both storms. By the way, one of the frequent visitors here is “kittykat-bitsandbobs” from Ireland. She owns a Cavalier – Bichon mix, you should check in with her and say “Hi”. Her blog is at:


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