Apr 15, 2008

Loving island weather

I drove down to Kona yesterday to apply for an afternoon/evening job at the distribution center of the west side's newspaper. It was a typical Kona afternoon; completely overcast with massive, dark rain clouds hovering over the upper mountain slopes, volcanic haze obscuring the sky and ensuring the sun was nowhere in sight, and heavy southbound rush hour traffic. I did make it to the office by 4 pm to file the application, then, as usual, left the masses behind by driving up the mountain and into the pleasant rainshowers.

The funny thing about Kona is that I really don't like the place in the morning, since it's almost unbearably sunny and hot and still in the early daylight hours, but when afternoon rolls around, the sea breezes pick up, which almost always causes dark heavy rain clouds to form over the mountain slopes, and blows in the massive amounts of sulfur dioxide emitted from the active volcano over land, bathing the landscape in an odd haze. It's not unsightly like L.A. smog, but rather just peculiar-looking. It does make for unforgettable sunsets, since viewers are able to gaze directly at the sun as soon as an hour before it dips before the horizon without harming their eyes. It appears an almost scarlet red and resembles another planet. This is part of the reason Kona sunsets are world famous. Kona is far from my favorite location on the island, mostly because of how congested with tourists it usually is, but it can be a wonderful place to spend time in during late afternoons and evenings.

For the longest time I've been fascinated with island weather patterns. Where I live, the air is pure, and rain and strong winds are frequent at any time of day or night, whereas Kona receives 95% of its rain in the late afternoon. Just five miles southeast of my house, annual rainfall is around 100 inches. Five miles southwest, annual rainfall is less than 10 inches. Since I live near the middle of a peninsula which is nearly symmetrically divided lengthwise between a wet side and a dry side, depending which direction I decide to travel down the highway, I'll either end up on dry, dusty coastline riddled with thorny mesquite trees or on a damp, foresty coastline characterized by dramatic sea cliffs buffeted by trade winds and spontaneous rain showers much of the time. Depending on exactly where one lives in the town of Waimea, they are usually either basking in the sunshine or wrapped in the cool embrace of fog and drizzle most of the time throughout the year.

Hawaii weather is truly unique, and frankly, mainland weather is very boring by comparison. It's no wonder so many of my local photographs include rainbows. Here, it seems to be raining while the sun is out more often than either or.


fleetingentity said...

You don't have to tell me mainland weather is boring...*l* I almost died when I saw 100 inches. I don't think we see that in 3-5 years!

Cosmic Nemesis said...

I actually generalized quite a bit there. I heard the weather is often very exciting and unpredictable in the northeast . . .