Looks Like Another Near-Miss.
(Friday morning) Hurricane Lane still has not come abreast of Maui, but it has diminished some in strength and it does appear that we will be mostly spared the inevitable destruction caused by hurricane winds. Mostly. Now it’s a question of coping with the torrential rains that are always a part of these storms.
(Friday afternoon) Hurricanes in Hawaii are a serious problem. For one thing, there’s nowhere to hide. All we can do is hunker down and try to ride them out. We can’t leave; the planes are full of tourists, and—trust me on this—there isn’t one empty seat to be had.
Storms that develop in the Pacific are typically big and often very nasty. Historically, most of them stay in warmer waters and pass south of these islands. More recently, thanks to global warming, these storms have been bigger and more powerful and they’re coming farther north.
In many ways, we’re not prepared.
For example, building codes here have for years reflected what used to be our benign weather. Most homes are framed with 2x4s with exterior siding of tongue-and-groove planks or even 4×10 sheets of plywood milled to look like more expansive siding. Try riding out a storm with 150 mile-per-hour winds in a structure like that!
The mountainous terrain here is a problem. When there’s heavy rainfall, water thunders downhill, gathering volume and momentum, and posing a real threat to people and animals and property.
It can take a long time to recover from a big storm. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki struck the island of Kauai head on and knocked utility poles down all over the island. You can’t just pick up the phone to place an order for 10,000 utility poles and ask for a rush delivery 2,500 miles out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
We run out of ordinary stuff—all the necessities of life—very quickly. It takes a steady armada of cargo ships to keep us in cereal and toilet paper and batteries and, well, you name it. But if storms interrupt the regular arrival of cargo vessels, suddenly there are empty shelves in the supermarkets.
In the meantime, my thanks for the thoughtful messages of concern. Much appreciated.