Posted by: Anna Webb | November 5, 2012

Tsunami: Missed Again

Once again, the Hawaiian Islands got “lucky” and the tsunami generated from the 7.8 earthquake in British Columbia was a non-issue. Back in February of 2010 an 8.8 earthquake in Chile generated a tsunami that threatened the islands.

Residents of Seaview Estates gather in wait for the February 2010 tsunami from Chile to arrive

Hawaii is a sitting duck in the middle of a large ocean. An earthquake in any area of the Ring of Fire could send a large series of waves moving through the Pacific Ocean with only a body of land to stop it. Central and South America, Asia, the Philippines, Russia, Alaska, Canada and the U.S all have had earthquakes strong enough to impact Hawaii. History says that it’s only a matter of time before a big one hits again.

The tsunami warning system headquartered on the Island of Oahu is impressive.

Civil Defense Tsunami Evacuation Zones

Working with local civil defense, they’ve created a system to warn residents of an impending tsunami with usually an hour or more to act and move to safety. In addition, they’ve worked with¬†various countries, and positioned a series of buoys throughout the Pacific Ocean measuring ocean waves on a regular basis. PacOOS Voyager. Once an earthquake happens, they pay close attention to the buoys in the area and can utilize the data to alert the islands of an approaching set of large waves. They can even estimate the time of arrival to the minute.

On the first business day of every month at 11:45 am HST the sirens are tested. If there is an issue they have the opportunity to fix it. During the event on October 27th, some of the sirens didn’t sound and many are wondering why. In addition, Hawaii’s Civil Defense has a call service to alert those who’ve signed up for tests and warnings.

Hawaii Tsunami Evacuation Area Warning Sign

My friend Sonia Martinez of Honomu is signed up for the service. Here was her comment on November 1st:

Just now 3:38 pm – received the phone call from Civil Defense about the test conducted at 3:10 pm – according to the call, they issue the warning at 3:20 pm…the procedure seems to be a bit backwards, don’t you think?

Sonia Martinez

She decided to send a letter to them questioning their procedures. Here’s what she wrote later that day:

To: <>
A little bit ago, 3:38 pm – I received the phone call from Civil Defense about the test conducted at 3:10 pm – according to the call, you issued the warning at 3:20 pm…I received a second call at 3:42 pm….

I still haven’t received any e-mailed notices.

The procedure seems to be a bit backwards, don’t you think?

On Facebook everyone was panicking or wondering what was going on.

I do appreciate the service and I do know you need to test them if they were malfunctioning, but why not send the warning an hour or two AHEAD of the test?

Just saying…..

PS…I think you need to have an active presence in Facebook. The Facebook coconut wireless around the island is faster than anything you’ve experienced ūüėČ

The service isn’t perfect and, in fact, 13 of the 71 sirens aren’t working as of November 1st according to a recent report. Hawaii in general is still in process of fine-tuning their technologies but feedback from users of their service will certainly help in achieving success. Ultimately, they strive to protect the Islands’ residents and hopefully when the next tsunami heads toward Hawaii, all sirens will be operable and residents will have plenty of time to get out of harm’s way.

Civil Defense Tests Reveal More Siren Failures

Posted by: Anna Webb | March 1, 2010

El Nino Predicted to Continue At Least Three More Months

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center announced the latest data on Pacific Ocean water temperatures and trends, predicting at least three more months of El Nino conditions.

In their prognostic discussion for long-lead ¬†Hawaiian outlooks, they predict continuation of below normal levels of precipitation for the islands. The end of January 2010 found Hilo Airport measurements at 10% of normal rainfall received for the year. Based upon personal observations, I conclude that those levels remained the same through February until yesterday. A system passing north of the islands toward mainland U.S. brought a “tail ¬†whip” of wind and rain to the islands yesterday.

According to the Department of Meteorology at the University of Hawaii synoptic discussion, this rain and moisture should continue through the week. This system will help the islands catch up on rainfall amounts but according to the overall outlook, we should fall back into dryer conditions once this system moves off to the East.

Mid-March the NOAA meteorologists will post their findings for March to inform us, once again, of their El Nino predictions. Meanwhile, Hawaii can anticipate lingering drought conditions while areas in the 48 states can expect more moisture. Going forward, experts will be announcing the effects of El Nino on hurricane and tornadic activity should it continue past the Spring season.

Stay tuned for further updates on this blog and remember, all comments are welcomed!


Posted by: Anna Webb | February 27, 2010

Hawaii Tsunami Update: Missing the “Big One”

SE Puna Coast -not the normal wave action - more sloshing than normal

A tsunami warning was issued for the Hawaiian Islands today after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Chile. Evacuations began for the Hawaiian Islands at 6am, 5 hours prior to the estimated time of arrival of the first tsunami wave. While Hawaii Civil Defense isn’t giving an “all clear” because the ocean is not behaving normally, we missed the “big one”.

At the grassy area in front of the Kalapana Seaview Estates subdivision, it became more of a “block party” than a main event. It is a gorgeous day which lent itself to a nice gathering of neighbors.

State and County officials did a great job of creating a safe evacuation.¬†More surge took place in Hilo at Hilo Bay. Better safe than sorry and we’re glad no damage is being reported thus far.

SE Puna Coastline looking East

People gathered on the lawn to take photos

Past the arrival time, people felt more comfortable to walk to the cliffs

Posted by: Anna Webb | February 27, 2010

Tsunami Warning Issued for all Hawaiian Islands

Deep ocean buoys are predicting many tsunamis (multiple waves which could last for up to 6-10 hours after the 1st one hits) generated from a Chile Earthquake 8.8 this evening. Civil defense warnings are on TV – All islands and the entire Island shorelines will be affected.

Warning center says we CAN EXPECT DECENT SIZED TSUNAMIS TO HIT HILO BAY AND ALL WRAP AROUND ISLAND SHORELINES – Estimated time of arrival is 11:19am Saturday February 27, 2010

More info from Charles McCreary at the tsunami center in Ewa Beach: flooding and damage possible for low lying coastline. Largest tsunami to cross the pacific since the Chile tsunami in 1960- a 9.5 quake. This one was an 8.8 so less magnitude but will still be dangerous. They will be checking the buoys to tell height, speed, and number of waves.
They will bend around the islands and create odd wave patterns as they continue to hit. This will be a danger to the coastline. No one should be hurt since there is so much time in advance.

Scheduled evacuation 6am Saturday morning. Sirens should start going off then.

UPDATE: They’ve changed Waikiki evacuations to vertical evacuation rather than leaving the area.

High tide at 2:30 which may add to the chaos of ocean surge. Gas stations running out of gas. All coast roads closed at 10am. Ships and most boats are moved out of harbor into ocean waters.

Remember: Do NOT go to the ocean at low levels to see the tsunami, or worse, to grab fish from the reefs as the water recedes before it hits!!!

Heads up – stay away from the shorelines.
Be well, stay safe.


Hawaii News Now Article

Reuters Article

Posted by: Anna Webb | February 21, 2010

Rainbows, Moonbows and Red Road: Repost

(Note to readers: I am updating this post with link to a great moonbow photo. (link below) They are few and far between due to the difficulty of photographing them at night-time.)

Early morning rainbow, Seaview Estates

Hawai’i is undisputedly the “Land of Rainbows”. Weather conditions, rain followed by intense sunshine, are perfect here to produce these glorious early morning and late afternoon displays of arched color.

A rainbow, scientifically explained, is a spectrum of light formed when the Sun’s rays shine onto water droplets in the Earth’s atmosphere. The result is an arc of intense color of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet can be clearly seen in this close up rainbow photo
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet can be clearly seen in this close up rainbow photo

Why is it always in the shape of an arc? It’s because the Earth’s atmosphere is curved. While rain is the most common form of water forming a rainbow, a light mist can also produce the same result. To me, the most interesting aspect of a rainbow is that it doesn’t exist in any particular location. It is the position of the observer in respect to the Sun’s location that makes it visible. Think about¬†that¬†for a minute. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Non-scientifically speaking,¬†that’s¬†what makes seeing them so special.

Notice the reverse color order of the double rainbow
Notice the reverse color order of the double rainbow

When relocating from the Hawaiian Acres area of Hawai’i’s east side down to the southeast coast area two years ago, it was possible that our new “digs” may not be situated as well to see rainbows. “No worries” as we say here, because we now are privileged to see even more displays of this meteorological phenomenon. Many times a late afternoon rain will pass by over the ocean and not even reach land resulting in a grand color show.

There are many myths in various cultures regarding rainbows. The earliest documentation of the rainbow myth dates back to approximately 3,000 BC to the Sumerian culture. Whether Sumerian, Greek, Aboriginal, Japanese or Judao-Christian these myths have a connected theme of being quite special in nature. The Hawaiian myth is called “The Rainbow Maiden”, a dramatic story about a maiden who could be seen playing wherever the sun or moon touched the misty rain.

An intense "chunk" of rainbow over the ocean
An intense “chunk” of rainbow over the ocean

If you want to “catch a rainbow” whether you are a resident or a visitor just remember the timeframes and conditions conducive to rainbow formations. In the morning, between the hours of 7am and 9am, and in the afternoon, from 3pm to 5pm, listen and watch for passing rain. If the Sun emerges from the clouds right afterward, step outside and look in the area opposite of where the Sun is located in the sky. You are likely to see a rainbow form. We have taken more than 5,000 photos of rainbows since we moved to Hawai’i’s Big Island four years ago!

Sadly, I can report that I did not find a “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow for I have seen the end of the rainbow in my own backyard. It’s my opinion that the “pot of gold” refers to the special feeling that washes over you when you actually¬†see¬†the end of the rainbow or better yet, when you have the opportunity to stand within the end of the rainbow. Although, I suppose it could have been at the¬†other¬†end…


An equally fascinating phenomenon is the moonbow also known as a lunar rainbow. This takes place when full moonlight shines on atmospheric moisture. It’s colors are muted and if witnessed later at night a moonbow will appear white. I’d heard descriptions of it but confused it with the rings seen around the moon itself caused by ice in the atmosphere. However, a true moonbow is shaped just like a full arc daytime rainbow only it appears at night. I’ve seen moonbows twice since living at the coast, both last year.

In January 2008 I was returning from Pahoa around 8:30pm. I had seen the full moon popping in and out of the clouds to my left as I made my way toward the coast. As I rounded the curve at about the 19 mile marker, just before the Painted Church, I looked over toward the pali to the right and had to pull over and jump out of the car. I couldn’t believe my eyes! There was a full arc moonbow in all it’s glory right over Kalapana. It feels as special as it sounds; it’s as if nature says, “Experience this and chalk it up as a special memory”. It’s so true because your cell phone photos will certainly display a disappointing black square. I have to admit I wept and was extremely grateful to have witnessed it in my lifetime.

Last June, on the Summer Solstice, one also appeared over the backyard. Walking out the backdoor to see a friend out to her car just before 10pm, it was simply shining like an upside down smile!

To catch a moonbow in Hawai’i be mindful that it needs to be a full moon combined with a passing rain. 8pm to 10pm seems to be the best time to spot one. If you hear a passing rain and the full moon emerges from the clouds go outside and look in the opposite direction from the location of the moon in the sky. It’s well worth your patience to try to catch sight of one.

UPDATE: Friday 9/4/09

Awesome! Caught a moonbow. Same conditions described above, went outside and sure enough there was a full arc moonbow in the backyard. I so wish the photos would turn out!


Great photo of moonbow on this website entitled “Moonbow over Venus”:

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center has taken the satellite photo of this off their page and removed the info on it. From the looks of the satellite on, it is breaking up and moving on.

I will update as necessary.



A stationary low sitting 1300 miles South of the Hawaiian Islands has the potential to develop into a tropical storm or hurricane, according to a news report last evening. The meteorologist stated that it is not unusual for this sort of development during an El Nino season.

Meteorologists are keeping an eye on the system and don’t expect anything to develop over the next 36 hours. I will update this blog as more information is received.

Article from KHNL news

Central Pacific Hurricane Center

UH Meteorology Website

Posted by: Anna Webb | February 17, 2010

Kehena Beach: The Naked Truth

Early morning shot of Kehena Beach

Located on the Red Road, Rt. 137 along the lower Puna coast, Kehena Beach (also known as Dolphin Beach) is a prominent landmark for both local residents and visitors.

Its one of Hawaii’s Big Island “power spots” and for good reason as it is situated just down the coast from Kilauea and the lava flow of the Pu’u’O’o vent. The energy at Kehena Beach changes somewhat depending upon the crowd (or, the crowd is drawn there due to its fluctuating energy).

The ocean activity at this beach is as energetic as the people who frequent it. Brilliant blue waves crash against black lava rock and a beach of black sand inclines down into the water line creating a strong undertow and, in my opinion, a strong electromagnetic field. The entire beach is enclosed by a 30 foot high rock cliff and surrounded on both sides by rocky peninsulas jutting into the ocean, creating a cove, encapsulating this energy.

The beach itself is gorgeous with fine black sand amidst hosting several large rocks and boulders and a nice grove of ironwood trees.  The hike down is NOT easy by any means but moderate on a scale of mild to difficult. A good sturdy pair of shoes is important as the trail descends through uneven rock.  Near the bottom, round smooth rocks have sand on them making them deceivingly slippery, as well.

Rainbow over Kehena Beach

Ultimately, Kehena Beach is not for the faint of heart. In addition to the steep descent into it and the strong ocean and powerful current, it is a clothing optional beach and most people take advantage of the option. There is not a sense of taboo in this respect. In fact, the seclusion of the beach itself and the attitude of its visitors make it seem quite natural. People from all over the world gravitate to the natural energy hotspot. Whether local or tourists, they are not there to ogle one another, and are simply there to gather and visit or to swim.

There are no life guards at Kehena Beach and the waves are dangerous. Locals seem to have developed a technique for entering the ocean at the right pace, diving through the shoreline waves at just the right time to make it past the breakline which ¬†constantly changes. However, it’s possible to get pummeled in the wave breaks and rolled around like clothing in a washing machine.

Dolphins often frequent the waters off Kehena Beach. One of my first experiences after moving to this area nearly three years ago was spotting the dolphins while driving along Red Road. We came upon a rise just above the beach and saw the dolphins playing off shore. A woman with a long scarf swam out to meet them. A dolphin took the scarf she handed to them and they swam with it and exchanged it between them. It was a most surreal experience.

The morning crowd seems to be an older group. Some can be found doing tai chi or other forms of energy work. The morning sun is warm and welcoming and there is less chance to get burned. By 10am, the sun’s rays becomes hot and those who do not have a full body tan would be wise to cover up the parts that are not accustomed to being exposed to it.

The mid to late afternoon crowd encompasses folks of all ages. Children build sand castles while young people play like water sprites along the shoreline. Middle aged people swim with a child-like playfulness and older folks sit and chat with one another and greet old friends. Some bring instruments and drum or play flutes. ¬†It’s an interesting mix of the eclectic and mainstream, all of whom revel in the openness of the right to bear it all in a natural setting.

Sunday afternoons brings a crowd of regulars together to drum, sing and dance. It’s quite crowded at this time so if you are in the mood for a quiet, private experience, Sunday afternoon is not the optimal time to go. However, if you are in the mood for a group gathering, visiting Kehena Beach on a Sunday afternoon will be a unique experience to remember.

Kehena Beach sits unassumingly along the Red Road. There is no sign announcing its presence. A small unmaintained parking area, which the local community keeps quite clean, accommodates about 10-15 cars at most. Overflow parking is allowed along both sides of the road.

If you decide to make Kehena Beach a stop on your vacation remember to respect the land and the power of the ocean. People have died there and people have learned how to live life to its fullest there. There is no “in-between”. Last year the area lost a local icon, “Uncle” Manu. As it was told to me, at one point that day he said, “Today is a good day to die.” Later, he entered the ocean and drowned.

Interesting place, Kehena Beach. Visit it with abandon and play with caution.

Blog article about Uncle Manu

Article about strong current at Kehena Beach sweeping 6 people out to sea

Another blog about Kehena Beach

Free music downloads from Kehena Beach Sunday drum circle

Posted by: Anna Webb | January 21, 2010

Kona Winds Return: Drought Continues on Big Island East Side

Sea surface temperatures and winds

I’ve been keeping score. Here on the lower Puna coast, it’s rained two times in three weeks. The last time could hardly be counted but I did hear the sound of rain briefly running into the catchment tank. Why the drought? El Ni√Īo is to blame.

Recent storms in the SoCal area and southwest mainland U.S is also a result of El Ni√Īo which brings extra moisture in those parts and denies us the same here in Hawaii. El Ni√Īo is warming of the Pacific Ocean.

“Kona Winds”, from a westerly to easterly direction, are expected to return overnight and remain for a couple of days. The weekend may hopefully bring a change.

The bottom line is that it’s a dicey mixed bag of weather patterns moving in and out north of the islands. It’s wreaking havoc in the states and leaving us high and dry.

Here are some tips on saving water:

If you have a double kitchen sink, make a sink full of hot soapy water and another of hot rinse water. This will save you a lot of water vs. running the dishwasher. If you don’t have company, wait and flush the toilet after a few uses. Each flush uses an average of 5 gallons of water. Take short showers. Buy low pressure shower heads. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. Use hand gel rather than washing hands every time.

Needless to say, the vog will return – again. *sigh* Remember, don’t overexert yourself if vog is in your area.

Here are some links for your review.

Hawaii Drought Monitor

El Nino Information

Real-time data of sea surface temperatures and winds

Posted by: Anna Webb | January 20, 2010

2010: Hawaii Hurricane Season: UPDATED 2/18/10

Note to readers: this system has moved on and is no longer an issue.

(original article below)

A stationary low sitting 1300 miles South of the Hawaiian Islands has the potential to develop into a tropical storm or hurricane, according to a news report last evening. The meteorologist stated that it is not unusual for this sort of development during an El Nino season.

Meteorologists are keeping an eye on the system and don’t expect anything to develop over the next 36 hours. I will update this blog as more information is received.

KHNL News article on this system

Central Pacific Hurricane Center

UH Meteorology Website


Bear in mind that predictions for the level of expected severity of Hawaii’s hurricane season will not be announced until May. At that time, NOAA will post an article based upon a variety of factors to decide if it will be a below normal, normal or above normal season.

Hang in there, we’ll find out soon enough. Meanwhile, enjoy!

Central Pacific Hurricane Center

Posted by: Anna Webb | January 18, 2010

Big Island Seismic Activity at a Low Point

The seismic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island is at a low point. There are now 21 earthquakes showing on the USGS two-week earthquake map. The majority of the 21 earthquakes on the map are concentrated in the Kilauea area, one on Mauna Kea, four on the north/northeast side and two on the west side, one of which is out in the ocean area off Kauaihae.

Activity can pick up at any time, however. During the time, for example, of the beginning of activity at the Halema’uma’u crater and increase of activity within the Pu’u’O’o vent there was upwards of 125-140 earthquakes showing on the map. That has gradually decreased over a nearly two-year period and we are seeing an “ebb” of quakes.

Currently, there is no flow into the ocean from the Pu’u’O’o vent and no steam plume has been observed for several days now. As we know, it will not stay that way for long and it’s just a matter of time before the lava finds another outlet.

The beauty of the volcanic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island is its consistent flow releasing pressure and not creating a build-up for dramatic release. I will stress again that it is just a matter of time before the ebb surrenders to the flow and it begins its active upward climb.

Hawaii USGS Earthquake Map

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »