Air Temperatures – The following high temperatures (F) were recorded across the state of Hawaii Monday…along with the low temperatures Tuesday:

88 – 72  Lihue, Kauai
74  Honolulu, Oahu
89 – 76  Molok
92 – 78  Kahului AP, Maui high temperature record Monday was 94…back in 1951
88 – 77  Kailua Kona
85 – 72  Hilo AP, Hawaii

Here are the latest 24-hour precipitation totals (inches) for each of the islands as of Tuesday morning:

4.13  Wainiha, Kauai
1.32  Poamoho RG 1, Oahu
0.13  Molokai
0.02  Lanai
0.00  Kahoolawe

3.55  West Wailuaiki, Maui
2.83  Mountain View, Big Island

The following numbers represent the strongest wind gusts (mph) as of Tuesday morning:

15  Poipu, Kauai
29  Oahu Forest NWR, Oahu
24  Molokai
27  Lanai
27  Kahoolawe
28  Maalaea Bay, Maui

31  Kealakomo, Big Island

Hawaii’s MountainsHere’s a link to the live webcam on the summit of our tallest mountain Mauna Kea (nearly 13,800 feet high) on the Big Island of Hawaii. This webcam is available during the daylight hours here in the islands, and at night whenever there’s a big moon shining down. Also, at night you will be able to see the stars — and the sunrise and sunset too — depending upon weather conditions.

Aloha Paragraphs
Hurricane Kenneth far east of Hawaii…weakening cold front north
Kenneth will move north-northwest…staying away from Hawaii
Thunderstorms south…and northwest of Kauai
Rainy clouds in the vicinity…tropical moisture coming up from the south
Showers locally…some are heavy
Looping radar image

Small Craft Advisory…windiest coasts and channels around Maui County and the Big Island

Special Weather Statement…

The sea level around the islands is running as much as a foot above the values shown by tide predictions due to an eddy moving west through the area. The peak high tides of the month will roll in on top of the elevated sea level.

Peak water levels will occur during the afternoons and evenings. During this time, you may encounter flooding of beach areas that are normally dry and inundation of docks, boat ramps and other coastal infrastructure. Be prepared for salt water covering some roads. Coastal flooding will end during the second half of the week as the peak daily tides diminish.


~~~ Hawaii Weather Narrative ~~~


Broad Brush Overview: Abundant tropical moisture, combined with an upper level disturbance over the area, will prompt heavy showers and thunderstorms again today. Gusty trade winds and drier conditions will return Wednesday, and continue into the upcoming weekend, as high pressure strengthens north of the state…and the upper disturbance migrates westward. Trade winds are expected to relax by the end of the weekend as high pressure weakens to the north.

Details: An upper level low west of Kauai is drawing tropical moisture northward over the state. Although the upper low is forecast to continue to drift westward and away from the area today, a sufficient amount of instability and tropical moisture, combined with daytime heating…will support another rainy day. Similar to Monday, the best chance for heavy showers and thunderstorms will remain over Kauai and the Big Island, especially during the afternoon and early evening hours. This potential combined with saturated grounds and swollen streams from the heavy rains yesterday…will keep the risk of flash flooding high. Elsewhere, the bulk of the showers will remain focused over windward and mountain areas, as the trades gradually begin to strengthen.

Looking further ahead: Strengthening trades and drier conditions are forecast to return across the state Wednesday, as the upper low moves away, and high pressure builds to the north. Clouds and showers will focus along windward and mountain areas each day through the second half of the work week. For the upcoming weekend, the models remain steady in depicting a weakness within the subtropical ridge developing…as a cold front passes by well north of the islands. If this unfolds as expected, the trades will relax into the light to moderate range by the end of the weekend into early next week. There continues to be a chance of increased showers again early next week, especially over the eastern islands. There are no threatening tropical cyclones expected through the next week.

Here’s a wind profile of the Pacific Ocean – Closer view of the islands / Here’s the vog forecast animation / Here’s the latest weather map

Marine environment details: Trade winds are expected to reach Small Craft Advisory (SCA) criteria today over the normally windier channels between the islands and the coastal waters south of the Big Island. Therefore, an SCA is now in effect for these waters through Thursday afternoon.

An upper level low will continue to produce isolated thunderstorms over coastal and offshore waters today. The highest risk is for the waters over the western islands. More stable and drier conditions are expected Wednesday…through the second half of the week.

East facing shores should see a slight increase in surf heights as the trade winds strengthen today. An easterly swell may also arrive during the second half of the week, as a result of Hurricane Kenneth in the eastern Pacific. South facing shores may see a slight increase in surf this coming weekend from a swell that originated from a Tasman Sea gale. A small southeast swell is also expected through the week.
Localized showers, some will be heavy…chance of thunder

World-wide tropical cyclone activity

>>> Here’s Tuesday’s PDC Weather Wall Presentation, covering Hurricane Kenneth in the northeastern Pacific…and Typhoon Hato in the South China sea, taking aim on Hong Kong

>>> Here’s Tuesday’s PDC Weather Wall Presentation, covering a tropical disturbance with a high chance of developing over the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico…and another disturbance with a low chance of developing over the Bahama’s

>>> Atlantic Ocean: No active tropical cyclones

1.) Shower and thunderstorm activity associated with a broad trough of low pressure near the northwestern Bahamas remains limited. Any development of this system during the next few days should be slow to occur while it moves west-northwestward, and then turns northwestward or northward near Florida and the adjacent waters. Environmental conditions could become a little more conducive for development by the weekend when the system begins to move northeastward over the western Atlantic.

* Formation chance through 48 hours…low…10 percent
* Formation chance through 5 days…low…30 percent

>>> Caribbean Sea: No active tropical cyclones

>>> Gulf of Mexico: No active tropical cyclones

1.) Disorganized showers and thunderstorms over the Yucatan Peninsula and adjacent water areas are associated with the remnants of Harvey. Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for development when the system moves over the Bay of Campeche tonight, and a tropical depression is expected to form over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday or Thursday. Regardless of development, locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds are expected to spread westward across Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula during the next day or so. Interests in northeastern Mexico and along the Texas coast should monitor the progress of this system.

* Formation chance through 48 hours…high…70 percent
* Formation chance through 5 days…high…90 percent

Here’s a satellite image of the Caribbean Sea…and the Gulf of Mexico

Here’s the link to the National Hurricane Center (NHC)

>>> Eastern Pacific:

Hurricane 13E (Kenneth) remains active, here’s a NHC graphical track map, a satellite image…and what the computer models are showing

Here’s a wide satellite image that covers the entire area between Mexico, out through the central Pacific…to the International Dateline.

Here’s the link to the National Hurricane Center (NHC)

Central Pacific
: No active tropical cyclones

Here’s a link to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC)

>>> Northwest Pacific Ocean:

Typhoon 15W (Hato) remains active, here’s a JTWC graphical track map, a satellite image…and what the computer models are showing

>>> South Pacific Ocean: No active tropical cyclones

North and South Indian Oceans / Arabian Sea:
No active tropical cyclones

In May of this year, China claimed a breakthrough in tapping an obscure fossil fuel resource: Researchers there managed to suck a steady flow of methane gas out of frozen mud on the seafloor. That same month, Japan did the same. And in the United States, researchers pulled a core of muddy, methane-soaked ice from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

The idea of exploiting this quirky fuel source would have been considered madness a couple of decades ago — both wildly expensive and dangerous. Until recently, methane-soaked ice was considered explosively unstable. In the Gulf of Mexico, traditional oil rigs have been tiptoeing around these icy deposits for years, trying to avoid them.

“These deposits have been a pain in the neck for oil exploration,” says Scott Dallimore with the Geological Survey of Canada. Accidentally melting deposits overlying traditional oil and gas fields could cause drilling infrastructure to collapse, or pipes to clog up with ice. After the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, for example, water and methane formed an icy plug that scuppered one attempt to halt the oil spill.

Now the tide has started to turn, as studies of the frozen gas have quelled some of the bigger fears. “We always used to think of these as explosive and dangerous — they’re not,” says Dallimore, who is involved with Canada’s explorations of these deposits. These reassuring findings, combined with rising energy demands, have spurred some countries — especially fossil fuel-poor nations like India and Japan — to think seriously about commercial extraction.

But there are still concerns about the wisdom of mining this unexplored corner of the fossil fuel landscape, including the possibility of triggering underwater landslides, unleashing tsunamis, disturbing ocean ecosystems, and — most important of all — more than doubling the planet’s natural gas supplies and the planet-warming emissions that go along with them. So is drilling for methane hydrates really a good idea?

For decades now, mankind has been chasing fossil fuels in smaller, weirder, and harder-to-get crevasses of the Earth. In the 1990s, the asphalt-like sludge of Alberta’s oil sands started to look like a viable resource; by 2003, thanks to changing technologies and economics, Canada’s standing in the international oil reserve tables rocketed to second place, behind Saudi Arabia. Then, around 2008, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, became all the rage: Fossil fuel companies started injecting water, sand, and chemicals into shale rocks to split them apart and suck the natural gas out of the cracks. Both technologies, with their attendant environmental problems, have been grabbing headlines ever since.

Methane-soaked ice is the newest, strangest resource competing to be in the list of exploitable gas.

Technically called methane hydrate, or methane clathrate, these deposits are simple ice with methane molecules trapped within the crystal cages of the water molecules. Methane hydrates form in places that are gassy, wet, cold, and under pressure, like in permafrosts or at the bottom of the sea. A chunk of methane hydrate looks benign, like a dirty snowball. But hold a lighter to it and the snowball goes up in flames. Some people call it “fire ice.”

No one even knew that hydrates existed in nature until the 1960s; the first sample wasn’t pulled from the seafloor until 1979. But researchers soon came to realize there is a ridiculous amount of the stuff. There are now thought to be 1,500 to 15,000 billion tons of carbon locked up in hydrates around the world — comparable to the 5,000 billion tons of carbon in all the planet’s oil, gas, and coal. Even though only a fraction of this is mineable, in the United States it has been estimated that exploiting hydrates could bump up that country’s natural gas deposits seven-fold.

The first tests of whether hydrates could be successfully tapped took place not underwater, but in the permafrosts of the Canadian North. In 2002, and then again 5 years later, researchers including Dallimore tackled the hydrates in Mallik, a site on an island of the Mackenzie River Delta near the Beaufort Sea. The idea, then and now, was not to physically dig up the hydrates, but instead to melt (or “dissociate”) them in place, so the gas could be pumped out. Heating the hydrates didn’t work so well, they found, but depressurizing them did the trick. When water is pumped out of the ground and the pressure down below drops, the hydrates become unstable. They then collapse into their component parts of water and gas, so the methane can be sucked up.

Permafrost sites might be easier to access, but the hydrate mother lode (99 percent of the global supply) is underwater. The first deepwater hydrate production test was done by Japan in 2013. Japanese engineers drilled down through a kilometer of water and a couple hundred meters of mud to reach a 60-meter-thick layer of hydrate-rich sand in the Nankai trough. Pumping up water lowered the pressure, and gas started flowing — at 20,000 cubic meters a day, about 10 times higher than at Mallik. Their test stopped when their well got clogged with sand.

These were both just short-term tests, lasting weeks, not years. But the results were encouraging enough to spur more work. In 2015, the Indian government found a mineable deposit in the Bay of Bengal, and has said it aims to have commercial production in place by 2020. The details of Japan’s 2017 tests have been kept quiet so far, says Tim Collett, a Colorado-based U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) expert on hydrates. But China reported a top flow of 35,000 cubic meters of gas in a single day from their 2017 experiment. Though U.S. efforts have so far been more scientific than commercial, the drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has shown that spot to be a possible candidate for future methane hydrate exploitation.

The early concern with mucking about with seafloor hydrates was that poking and prodding could theoretically cause big chunks of hydrate to accidentally destabilize. This was a worry for at least two reasons: Release enough gas bubbles into the water and maybe they would lower the density of the water enough to sink ships above. Plus, methane is at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, so if vast amounts were released into the atmosphere it would accelerate climate change. Fortunately, both of these concerns have ebbed.

Big hydrate blowouts have probably happened before — triggered by nature, not by mankind. Kilometer-wide craters on the Arctic seafloor are thought to have been made by domes of methane gas that collapsed some 12,000 years ago. About 55 million years ago, the release of 1,200-2,100 billion tons of methane carbon from hydrates has been blamed for helping global temperatures skyrocket by about 9°F.

But such blowouts and massive releases are a lot less common than previously thought, says Carolyn Ruppel, who leads the USGS Gas Hydrates Project out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Other big bursts of methane in the planet’s history are now thought to have come from wetlands rather than hydrates, she says. “We don’t see a lot of evidence for catastrophic bursts,” says Ruppel.

The production tests done so far have shown that the hard part is getting the gas out, not stopping it from escaping. Drillers have to use energy to pump up water, lower the pressure, and get gas out; stop pumping and the dissociation stops, making runaway destabilization impossible. “We see this time and time again in samples and field tests at Mallik, Alaska, and in Japan,” says Dallimore.

Even if methane escapes from seafloor deposits, Ruppel adds, it’s unlikely to reach the surface. Studies have shown that most of it gets trapped in sediments, is gobbled up by microbes or dissolves into the water. “Hardly any of it makes it to the atmosphere,” agrees Dallimore.

Unlike with fracking, no chemicals are involved with hydrate extraction: just methane and water.

Nevertheless, real concerns remain. Microbes in the water that consume methane use up oxygen and release carbon dioxide, making the water more acidic. Those conditions can make life stressful for marine organisms. That was accidentally tested by the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which released not just oil but also methane gas (from the reservoir, not from hydrates). There was a subsequent change to oxygen levels in the waters, although researchers couldn’t pin any negative ecosystem impacts on the methane release alone. Ruppel and others are planning to investigate some natural methane seeps in the Atlantic in the coming months to see how they might be affecting water chemistry.

Drilling and gas extraction could also destabilize the ground enough to cause an underwater landslide. “The major risk is slope failure,” says Klaus Wallmann, who is leading a German research initiative to explore hydrates as a natural gas resource. Hydrates can act like a kind of cement to hold seafloor sediments together; if they are disturbed, that could cause ground collapse, wiping out local ecosystems or even, theoretically, triggering tsunamis. But, reassures Wallmann, “a major tsunami is very unlikely.”

Ways exist to mitigate these risks, like not tapping areas with steep slopes or where the hydrates are close to the seafloor surface. Miners could also swap the methane in hydrates with carbon dioxide captured from coal-burning power plants or other sources, cunningly tucking away some greenhouse gases while also keeping the icy hydrates stable. The U.S. tested that idea in some Alaskan permafrosts in 2012; it worked, though they weren’t able to suck out methane at a high rate.

A 2014 United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report concluded that the environmental risks of hydrate exploitation “would likely be similar to those of conventional [natural gas] projects.” But that still leaves a major issue — the exploitation of yet another massive source of greenhouse gases. That’s the real hazard, says Yannick Beaudoin, editor of the UNEP report. “With costs of renewable sources now flirting with coal in some places, we might avoid this `hazard’ simply because of the rapidly changing economics,” adds Beaudoin, chief scientist for GRID-Arendal, a Norwegian-based foundation that supports sustainable development. Countries like China, Beaudoin adds, might choose to up their investment in renewables rather than plowing funds into novel fossil fuels.

The unknowns still leave some observers worried, and wondering whether and how the industry could be regulated before it ramps up. “We need a better grasp of the risks of such operations and how to manage them,” write Haoran Dong & Guangming Zeng of China’s Hunan University in a recent issue of Nature. Wallmann says that Vladimir Golitsyn, the president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, has asked him about whether regulation might be needed, and what form it might take.

In the meantime, the real thing holding back hydrate production isn’t technological, political, or environmental, but economic. “In North America, we’re awash with natural gas and no one cares [about hydrates],” says Dallimore.

A typical deepwater natural gas well pulls more than a million cubic meters of methane per day, notes Collett — about 50 times higher than the rates managed with hydrates so far. But that might not be as big a problem as it seems, he adds. India imports more than a third of its energy resources; Japan more than 90 percent. “Their natural gas costs are 4 times what we pay,” Collett notes. For them, hydrates are looking ever-more attractive.