Is Simply Delicious - Yum!
by Betty KAM
Mark Twain wrote, "If you don't like the weather
in New England, just wait a few minutes." I say,
"If you don't like the weather in Kona, just drive
to some other part of the island." Hawaii is a
marvel of nature. The weather is diverse, covering ten
of the fifteen types of climates. Among them are tropical,
moonsoonal, desert, and periglacial.
Big Island has the most diverse climate of all the
islands. The factors that play into Hawaii's climate
are latitude, the surrounding ocean, location relative
to storm tracks, and the mountainous terrain. The diverse
climate contributes to a collection of many micro-environments,
possessing unique weather, plants and animals. A long
day's drive can take you through tropical rainforests,
cool alpine regions, stony deserts and sunny beaches.
Because Hawaii is within the tropics, the length of
day throughout the year is about the same. The longest
day is just over 13 hours and the shortest is 11 hours.
Jack London wrote, "Hawaii is a Paradise...."
The weather is lovely almost every day of the year.
There are few days without some sunshine. High altitudes
may be misty. Coastal areas are consistently warm, warmest
on the leeward side where there is protection from the
There are two seasons in Hawaii: summer (Kau in Hawaiian)
from May to October and winter (Ho'oilo) from November
to April. You know it is summer if the mango trees are
laden with fruit and the white ginger fragrance fills
the air. Surfers live for the big waves of the winter.
Summer tends to be drier and winter to be rainier. The
prevailing winds move from east to west and the volcanic
mountains trap the moist air from the Pacific. As a
result the windward sides (east and north) are cooler
and wetter; the leeward sides (west and south) are warmer
and drier. On the leeward side of the Big Island there
are places which may only get five or six inches of
rain a year.
Kailua-Kona is almost always sunny. The range of temperatures
for February is 60 degrees to 80 degrees. In August
you can expect temperatures between 69 degrees and 87
degrees. The humidity ranges from 50 to 80 per cent.
Balmy breezes keep it comfortable. Occasionally, about
10 percent of the time, Kona winds come out of the south
and west to bring stillness or warm, sticky air. (Kona
is a Polynesian word that means leeward or South.) Kona
and Kohala often experience clear mornings and afternoon
clouds. Kona is protected from the tradewinds by Hualalai,
which gets most of the rain. Kohala is the driest part
of the island with an average of 10" a year. While
there is an abundance of sunshine, the drawback is the
strong afternoon breezes heated by the extensive lava
Hilo, on the windward side, is the wettest city in
the United States and may average over 100" of
rain a year. A record of 153.93" was set in 1971.
The National Weather Service reported that Hilo had
the most rainfall for a 24 hour period in February of
1979. Would you believe 22.3"? The good news is
that most of the rain falls at night. Daytime showers
may be intense but are also short lived. The ocean on
this side of the island is not as clear because of the
amount of run-off, but here you will find plant heaven
and breathtaking waterfalls.
Hawaii has a tropical climate and it is almost always
raining somewhere on one of the islands, but often if
you wait a short while the sun will come out and a rainbow
will appear. Two ingredients are needed for rainbows:
showers and sunshine. Position yourself so that the
sun is at your back while you watch the falling water.
Waimea has more rain than Kona, thus more opportunity
for rainbows. Etheric rainbows can be seen at Rainbow
Falls in Hilo; the best time for viewing is early morning
when the sun has just risen. Rainbows have been the
inspiration for some Hawaiian legends. Kahalaopuna is
an ancient Hawaiian legend of the beautiful girl of
the rainbow, betrothed to marry a chief named Kauhi.
Another legend involving rainbows was first published
in 1863 and named "The Hawaiian Romance of Laieikauai.
The water temperature ranges from 75 degrees in February
to 82 degrees in September. The variation between day
and night is only about one to two degrees. Hawaii is
more than 2000 miles from the nearest continental land
mass. No matter what the source, air masses are heated
on their journey across the ocean. The air mass from
the Artic can be warmed as much as 100 degrees before
it reaches Hawaii. The water may be colder where fresh
water springs percolate from the ocean floor. The ocean
supplies moisture to the air and also acts as a giant
thermostat. The Kona side has the calmest clearest water
in the state and some of the best beaches in the United
States. Generally summer waters are very gentle on all
the beaches. Wave conditions are very localized, so
if you don't find the surf you desire at one beach,
travel to another.
The temperatures on the top of Mauna Kea are rarely
below 30 degrees or above 50 degrees, but the wind chill
factor can bring the temperature to below zero at the
summit. The summit of Mauna Loa is about 10 degrees
warmer. There is a noticeable difference between the
morning and evening temperatures at high altitudes.
Upcountry residents might be able to spend Christmas
Eve gathered around the fireplace. Sometimes it even
snows at the summit of Mauna Kea (13792 ft.) While you
would be able to ski, don't look for a lodge or lifts.
Weather problems are an exception to the rule in Hawaii,
but occasionally tsunamis, large tidal waves caused
by far-off earthquakes, hit the island. In 1946 and
1960 tsunamis devastated small areas of the Big Island.
During the winter of 1997-1998, El Nino caused a severe
drought. While severe storms are uncommon, they do hit
land in the Central Pacific about every eight to ten
years. Hurricane Iniki hit the island of Kauai in 1992.
Only in Hawaii are you able to experience vog. Does
that look like fog influenced by a volcano? Vog is created
when the sulfur dioxide gas emissions of the Kilauea
volcano react chemically with sunlight, oxygen, dust
particles and water in the air. It produces a hazy atmosphere
that locals view as only an inconvenience. Daytime onshore
breezes and nighttime off shore breezes rake the vog
back and forth across Kona. Visitors to the Big Island
who suffer from chronic diseases such as emphysema and
asthma should consult with their doctors before visiting.
And Mark Twain sums it up, "The climate is simply
delicious -- never cold at the sea level, and never
really too warm, for you are at the half-way house --
that is, twenty degrees above the equator. But then
you may order your own climate, for this reason: the
eight inhabited islands are merely mountains that lift
themselves out of the sea -- a group of bells, if you
please, with some (but not very much) "flare"
at their basis. You get the idea? Well, you take a thermometer,
and mark on it where you want the mercury to stand permanently
forever (with not more than 12 degrees variation) Winter
and Summer. If 82 in the shade is your figure (with
the privilege of going down or up 5 or 6 degrees at
long intervals), you build your house down on the "flare"
-- the sloping or level ground by the seashore -- and
you have the deadest surest thing in the world on that
temperature. And such is the climate of Honolulu, the
capital of the kingdom. If you mark 70 as your mean
temperature, you build your house on any mountain side,
400 or 500 feet above sea level. If you mark 55 or 60,
go 1,500 feet higher. If you mark for Wintry weather,
go on climbing and watching your mercury. If you want
snow and ice forever and ever, and zero and below, build
on the summit of Mauna Kea, 16,000 feet up in the air.
If you must have hot weather, you should build at Lahaina,
where they do not hang the thermometer on a nail because
the solder might melt and the instrument get broken;
or you should build in the crater of Kilauea which would
be the same as going home before your time. You cannot
find as much climate bunched together anywhere in the
world as you can in the Sandwich Islands. You may stand
on the summit of Mauna Kea, in the midst of snowbanks
that were there before Capt. Cook was born, maybe, and
while you shiver in your furs you may cast your eye
down the sweep of the mountain side and tell exactly
where the frigid zone ends and vegetable life begins;
a stunted and tormented growth of trees shades down
into a taller and freer species, and that in turn, into
the full foliage and varied tints of the temperate zone;
further down, the mere ordinary green tone of a forest
washes over the edges of a broad bar of orange trees
that embraces the mountain like a belt, and is so deep
and dark a green that distance makes it black; and still
further down, your eye rests upon the levels of the
seashore, where the sugar-cane is scorching in the sun,
and the feathery cocoa-palm glassing itself in the tropical
waves; and where you know the sinful natives are lolling
about in utter nakedness and never knowing or caring
that you and your snow and your chattering teeth are
so close by. So you perceive, you can look down upon
all the climates of the earth, and note the kinds and
colors of all the vegetations, just with a glance of
the eye -- and this glance only travels about three
miles as the bird flies, too.
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