Take Hawaii Weather for Granted … and POW!

The universal perception is that we have year ‘round beautiful weather in Hawaii. And we do … most of the time. The temperature rarely reaches 90 degrees and the average in our winter months is only a few degrees lower than it is in July and August. We’re cooled by gentle trade winds, which blow almost constantly—usually 10-15 miles an hour—and always out of the northeast. As a result, whenever possible, we orient our buildings accordingly.
But maybe three or four times a year, just for a couple of days each time, the wind does an about face and comes out of the southwest. That’s when the front door keeps banging open, the coat rack on the deck blows over, and we have to close all the windows because anything not weighted down goes flying all over the living room. More often than not, these “Kona winds” seem to catch the forecasters by surprise. Yesterday afternoon the wind shifted to the southwest and by dinnertime had started gusting ominously. So I checked the official forecast for our area of Maui:
“Southwest winds 20-23 miles per hour with occasional gusts to 35 mph.”
Ha! Wrong again! It blew like hell last night. The power went out just before midnight and wasn’t restored until about 3:00 this afternoon. The whole place was a mess this morning. Tree branches—some several inches thick—littered the driveway. A branch from a eucalyptus tree tree broke off and took out a 30-foot section of our pasture fence. Near the front of the property, a foot-thick branch from another giant eucalyptus tore loose and crashed down onto the fence on our property line, with probably 30 or 40 feet resting in the neighbor’s back yard.

I love our majestic sprawling eucalyptus trees. Some of them are many years old and well over 100 feet high. But, unfortunately, and sometimes for no apparent reason, they tend to shed their branches or even just fall over.
One of the local characters who did the grading on this property also took out some of the huge trees that were too near the house. He dug around the base of the trees for a couple of minutes with his back hoe … then just pushed them over. When the biggest one fell with a thunderous crash, he shut off his machine, grinned at me and said, “Giant weeds! And better than an annuity!”
Maybe so. But I’ll keep ‘em.