Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today's Hawaiian Plant

The first half-mile or so of the trail off Hao Street features numerous examples of today's native Hawaiian plant, 'ie'ie. This morning a small ohia tree supporting a huge rack of twisting 'ie'ie had fallen across the trail, blocking it.
Here's 'ie'ie in its more usual incarnation, climbing a large ohia tree.

'Ie'ie is, as it appears to be, a relative of the Hala, or pandanus.
This morning was a lovely cool morning for a walk.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

West Wind Whips Away Vog!

What a difference wind direction makes. This was the view today of the same vista that looked so gray and poisonous last week Wednesday:

The view looking south from Old A was equally clear:

A little panorama at Kaloko-Honokohau:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saturday Miscellany at Kaloko-Honokohau

A turtle resting on the lava.

Opae'ula in an anchialine pond:

'Aimakapa Fish Pond:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless (because it's hard to breathe) Wednesday: If the volcano doesn't get you, the vog will!

Let us take a moment to put aside our fears of a catastrophic volcanic eruption, exciting though they may be, in order to contemplate and fully appreciate the quality of the "air" we're breathing today in Kailua. This was the view from the Kam III Road lookout, looking north toward town, about 4:40 this afternoon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hualalai: Ticking Time-Bomb or Tragedy Just Waiting To Happen?

Seriously, if Hualalai does erupt soon, in horrific, destructive fashion, I'm going to look like a jerk for mocking the "sleeping giant"*. The USGS, for one, says that "Hualalai is considered a potentially dangerous volcano that is likely to erupt again in the next 100 years." "Likely." And that page is dated 2001, so we're down to 90 years.

UH's School of Oceanic and Earth Science and Technology (Or SOEST, which took fourth in the "worst acronym of 2003" awards) provides no more comfort: "[Hualalai's]
summit is only 15km ( 9.3 miles!) away from the town of Kailua-Kona and a flow as voluminous as the 1800 eruption could cover that distance in a few hours."

A letter to WHT's editor from a local teacher, dated September 11(!), 2009, gives us even less time:

One volcanologist I spoke with told me, and he was clear that his statement to me had to be "off the record," that he would "bet my career" that Hualalai will erupt within the next 50 years. Hualalai is a time-bomb waiting to go off and the government has no plans at all to evacuate people from the area.


Civil Defense has no plans for an eruption; indeed, most people in Kona think the volcano is extinct. Due to her steep slopes it has been estimated that in the 1801 eruption lava from Hualalai went from summit to sea in only about two hours.
Two hours? Imagine trying to evacuate any part of Kona in two hours. Our government unprepared and clueless? I'd say "run for the hills" but that's probably not the best advice.

Second Attempt to Capitalize on Fear About the Geologically Impending Catastrophic Eruption of Hualalai!

As part of my ongoing effort to leech onto the "Is Hualalai Going to Erupt?" campaign, I present this little-known documentary about the last time Kona was devastated by a volcano. Who can forget those awful days when the old Kona Surf was bombarded with flaming lava bombs, imperiling not only Paul Newman and Jacqueline Bisset, but James Franciscus, Red Buttons, Ernest Borgnine, Burgess Meredith, Pat Morita and William Holden as well!

I emphasize that the film is only fictionalized reality, so unreasonable fear and panic is probably not warranted quite yet. Still, we can be reasonably sure that a real eruption would be almost exactly like this:

UPDATE:Because this movie a) was shot in Kona; and b) is cheesier than a Packers' tailgate party, it's worth sharing more. Watch Pat Morita do a double back somersault into a lava river! See the Kona Surf destroyed, taking out Veronica Hamel and Barbara Carrera too! Marvel at Burgess Meredith's ludicrous (and seemingly endless) tightrope walk over molten lava, carrying a little kid on his back!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When Will Hualalai Erupt and Bring Death and Destruction to Kona?

Will floods of molten lava pour out of this crater at the 7000' level and wreak fiery havoc on the peaceful communities nestled on the slopes of this dangerous volcano? Eventually, I suppose.

The title of the article is confusing. "The Sleeping Giant" is a touristy name for Nounou, this mountain on Kaua'i:

And "giant" lacks the note of menace you want in an article like this.

Aaron is right about the factual error. The 900-foot thick Pu'uanahulu flow didn't reach the ocean. It stopped to comprise the (900-foot thick) Pu'uanahulu hillside that the Big Island Country Club sits on top of, seen here from Kalulu at about 6350'.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Amazing Level of Compliance?

Today I spotted a driver talking on his handset while driving, and I realized that he was the first person I'd seen breaking the new ordinance since New Year. Before the ban, some days it seemed like half the drivers had a hand and a phone at their ear. If my unscientific impression is true, that's a very good level of immediate compliance. Isn't it?

Monday, January 04, 2010

West Wind Brings Beautiful Weather to Kona

The west wind today gave us a razor-sharp horizon and clear air, and, I suspect, drove the smoke from the continuing fires elsewhere. Certainly the TV weather people in Honolulu were whining about how hazy it was. Cry me a river.

Kaloko-Honokohau at sunset. Click for larger.

On Damon Tucker's blog, Syd Singer makes perhaps the most ludicrous allusion to genocide in history, invoking the g-word in a sanctimonious and hysterical defense of mangrove trees. Yes, mangrove trees. Singer is reduced to tears as he mourns the mangrove plants, "left to rot in place." I suppose we should give them a decent burial.

Singer is the professional crank who has previously made hysterical and sanctimonious defenses of coqui frogs and strawberry guava, and agitated against women wearing brassieres (I'm kind of with him on that latter issue, though not necessarily for health reasons).

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Smoke Smell Returns to Kailua

As of 9 pm Sunday. I suspect at least one of the fires is still burning.

UPDATE, Monday morning: No smell, and beautiful clear sky.

Messing Around With Long Exposures On My New Camera

60 second exposure looking across the street toward the moon rising over Hualalai:

Hao Street Trail

Go up Kaloko Mauka Drive to the third Hao Street intersection, turn left, and the trail starts on your right, just a short distance down. It connects to the trails at Makahi Street, further uphill, and features numerous native plants.
For example, mamaki, which is familiar to most people because it's used for medicinal tea.

There are numerous plantings of an extremely endangered plant, kokia, also known as hau hele 'ula, (kokia drynariodes) which had been reduced to less than ten plants in the wild.

There are a few plantings of hibiscus brakenridgei, mao hau hele, Hawaii's state flower.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy Non-Zombie New Year

Today was a gorgeous clear day in Kona. From the 5800' level, a panorama with the main crater source for the (1750-1800) Kau'pulehu flow. In the background, Kohala, Kawaihae, and Maui (click for larger photo):

And, of course, another in my tiresome series of ohia lehua pictures: