Blog by David Nash (B)

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Iselle and Julio Visit Hawaii day 1

HURRICANES IN HAWAII 
A once a century visit, twice in one week 

Follow me on twitter to see photos and videos of the
hurricanes Iselle and Julio @TheOahuAgent 

So the thing about hurricanes is that they are big, and the thing about Hawaii is that we are small. If you take an average size hurricane, say one that terrorizes Florida but doesn't really destroy the place, do you know how large that storm can be? 
The answer is hundreds of miles, up to 500+ miles (in diameter)

Anyone out there know how big Hawaii is?
Well from the Nothern tip of Kauai to the Southern tip of Big Island we are just under 400 miles.  So what that means is that any self respecting hurricane could cover our state completely, at least every island where people live, and it is more than likely the eye of the storm will be about the size of one of our larger islands. Say Oahu for example, where about 1 million people live at any given time including our tourist guests. 

But what Hawaii has in it's hip pocket that places like Florida lack are 2 things that tends to put these huffy little storms in their place, wind shear and mountains.

Let's look at how wind shear and mountains help us out:

MOUNTAINS:
For those of you that have never been here, we have mountains, AWESOME, STEEP, ROARING, MOUNTAINS covered in LUSH GREEN that road bikers from all over the world come to ride just to test themselves in the winter to get ready for the Alps in the summer. (For those of you who have never been to either the alps or Hawaii you really should get out more, there's a whole workd out there)
Our Hawaiian mountains are only 500 ft lower than the highest mountains in the continental US, that's right we have 2 volcanoes (1 that still spews lava) that are almost 14,000 ft high. With the other islands ranging from about 4000 to 10,000 tall. So yes, Hawaii has some big beautiful mountains. 

What that means if you are a hurricane is that you have to cross those mountains to keep traveling to the next place to destroy. The problem with hurricanes and mountains is that if you are a hurricane you get all your strength from warm water in the ocean. But to cross mountains you have to leave your beloved ocean to get to the other side of the mountain unless you find a way to just swing around the island. This travel across mountains can have the same effect on a hurricane as kryptonite has on superman. It can bring the storm to it's proverbial knees. So after you go over an island or 2 with it's high mountains you're feeling a little queezy and weak, like new years day. And that is good news for the people and animals that live there because you are now just a tropical storm and not nearly as menacing as a hurricane. 


Wind Sheer:
So the other effect that we just love lving in Hawaii for is what we call the trade winds. For those of you that forgot all about 2nd grade geography lessons you had on conquistadors and how they got from one place to another you may want to brush up a bit. (See also Christopher Columbus route to the "new world")
Or if you happened to also study the Coriolis effect in school this will explain how these winds are created. 
The most important thing about the trade winds in Hawaii is that they blow about 75% of the time and that is a lot of what makes Hawaii the paradise it is. Low humidity, perfect temperatures, and rarely stiflingly muggy like other tropical places. 
Anyway these trade winds tend to get stronger around the islands because they have been traveling for hundreds of miles across the ocean and when they start to hit the same mountains mentioned above they have to squeeze around the islands and this creates a bit of a pickup in speed. THis pickup in speed can rip an otherwise mean spirited, fun hating, car tossing hurricane into a jumbled mass of wind and rain that can't quite get out of it's own way. It tends to make everyone very wet while it figures out what to do with itself but that's ok because often it's the wind and not the rain alone that is so destructive in a hurricane.
Here is a much longer and technical description of  wind sheer in case you want to know more about it.....SNORE.....


So right now it's about 1am and we are set to be hit on Oahu with the first 2 hurricanes in recorded history tomorrow, but it looks like our old friends mountains and wind sheer are helping us out..........if you want to see more about these hurricanes or the photos. go here to follow me on twitter or my facebook page