When It Comes To the Weather, It’s All Relative.

This time of year, when friends and family call from the mainland, most of them make some envious comment about what our weather must be like. They assume it’s balmy and beautiful, and of course that’s how it is most of the year. But winter in Hawaii can mean rain and so far this year, it’s meant a LOT of rain.

A few days ago, for instance, parts of Maui got almost 2.5 inches of rain and things were a real mess for a while. Because much of the island is mountainous with deep, narrow gulches, there were the usual flash flood warnings. Occasionally there are tragic reminders to take them seriously. Hiking trails through lush tropical foliage can become torrents in minutes. A few years back, an old acquaintance of mine and his wife were driving home from dinner at the Hotel Hana Maui and never got there. It had been raining like hell and everyone is pretty sure what happened: They came to a spot where the water was rushing across the road and thought they could make it across. The water must have swept them and their car down through the gulches and out into the ocean. Neither they nor their car were ever found.

Anyway, this time of year we’ll have maybe a day of sun with nice gentle breezes, then several days of heavy rain and high winds. Over on Oahu, after they’ve had six or seven straight days of rain, the Honolulu TV stations like to send their reporters and cameras into Waikiki to interview the tourists. The conversation almost always goes like this:

REPORTER: Tell me, sir, how do you feel after spending thousands of dollars to come all the way to Hawaii and it’s been raining steadily for the past several days?

TOURIST: Are you kidding? We just called home and it’s 5 degrees and snowing back in Cleveland! This is great!