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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Categories: Max's Stories