Friday, March 13, 2015

Vog and Snow

Snow and clouds cover Mauna Kea
Like most of the world, the weather on the Big Island of Hawaii has been strange this year.  Two weeks ago the island was blanketed in vog from our constantly erupting volcano.  When the winds finally changed, it brought a thick blanket of clouds, rain and very cold temperatures

The heavy vog (volcanic smog) hung over us for over a week as a southern wind blew it north covering the west side of the island. When the vog gets thick, some people have a reaction in their lungs. The lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand from volcanoes, Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, is actually the longest word in the dictionary.  In our case, the vog lowers our energy and we feel like we are down with the flu.  Our only recourse is to stay inside and run the AC to get some of the sulfur dioxide out of our air. 

When the winds changed we got rain with record cold temperatures for March.  Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are covered in snow with high winds and freezing fog. The huge Thirty Meter Telescope, under construction on Mauna Kea, was delayed from the blizzard.

While we bundle up in temperatures in the low 60’s (F), the ocean surrounding the Hawaiian Islands is not cooling down.  The water is warmer than normal by up to 3.6 degrees. Last week NOAA Climate Prediction Center predicted a 60% chance of El Nino conditions because of the unusual warm temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.  The effects of the El Nino last year produced 20 named storms in the Eastern Pacific, the most since 1992.

An El Nino means our cold weather will likely be followed by a dry summer and another active hurricane season.