August 6-7, 2009

Air Temperatures
The following maximum temperatures were recorded across the state of Hawaii Thursday afternoon: 

Lihue, Kauai – 83
Honolulu, Oahu – 88
Kaneohe, Oahu – 84
Kahului, Maui – 85

Hilo, Hawaii – 81
Kailua-kona – 88

Air Temperatures ranged between these warmest and coolest spots near sea level – and on the highest mountains…at 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon:

Barking Sands, Kauai – 88F
Hilo, Hawaii- 79

Haleakala Crater    – 57  (near 10,000 feet on Maui)
Mauna Kea summit – 61  (near 14,000 feet on the Big Island)

Precipitation TotalsThe following numbers represent the largest precipitation totals (inches) during the last 24 hours on each of the major islands, as of
Thursday afternoon:

0.45 Mount Waialaele, Kauai
0.07 Oahu Forest NWR, Oahu
0.00 Molokai
0.00 Lanai
0.00 Kahoolawe
0.32 Puu Kukui, Maui

0.27 Hilo airport, Big Island

Marine Winds – Here’s the latest (automatically updated) weather map showing a 1030 millibar high pressure system to the north-northeast of the islands. This high pressure cell, along with its associated ridge to our north, will keep the trade winds blowing through Saturday.

Satellite and Radar Images: To view the cloud conditions we have here in Hawaii, please use the following satellite links, starting off with this Infrared Satellite Image of the islands to see all the clouds around the state during the day and night. This next image is one that gives close images of the islands only during the daytime hours, and is referred to as a Close-up visible image. This next image shows a larger view of the Pacific…giving perspective to the wider ranging cloud patterns in the Pacific Ocean. Finally, here’s a Looping IR satellite image, making viewable the clouds around the islands 24 hours a day. To help you keep track of where any showers may be around the islands, here’s the latest animated radar image

Hawaii’s Mountains – Here’s a link to the live webcam on the summit of near 14,000 foot Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. The tallest peak on the island of Maui is the Haleakala Crater, which is near 10,000 feet in elevation. These two webcams are available during the daylight hours here in the islands…and when there’s a big moon rising just after sunset for an hour or two! Plus, during the nights and early mornings you will be able to see stars, and the sunrise too…depending upon weather conditions.

Tropical Cyclone activity in the eastern and central Pacific – Here’s the latest weather information coming out of the National Hurricane Center, covering the eastern north Pacific. You can find the latest tropical cyclone information for the central north Pacific (where Hawaii is located) by clicking on this link to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Here’s a tracking map covering both the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. A satellite image, which shows the entire ocean area between Hawaii and the Mexican coast…can be found here.


 Aloha Paragraphs
    Hurricane Felicia approaches from the east


A well established trade wind weather pattern will continue across the Hawaiian Islands…with locally gusty conditions through Friday into the weekend.  A 1029 millibar high pressure system remains in place to the north-northeast of Hawaii Thursday evening. This trade wind producing high pressure cell is shown on this weather map. A small craft wind advisory remains active across the channel between Kauai and Oahu, then down through Maui County…to the Big Island. 

Our overlying atmosphere remains fairly dry and stable, limiting showers across our Aloha state for the time being.
The windward sides will find a few showers falling at times. The leeward beaches will remain mostly dry. This should allow abundant sunshine to be available along our south and west facing shores. When tropical cyclone Felicia pushes close to the state of Hawaii during the first part of the new work week ahead…we may see very rainy weather arrive around the Big Island and Maui, perhaps further up the island chain.

Major hurricane Felicia, and tropical depression Enrique continue to spin the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean Thursday evening. Enrique will be dissipating soon, as it moves over cooler sea surface temperatures. Our primary focus continues to be category 4 hurricane Felicia…as it moves into our central Pacific Saturday morning, still sporting hurricane force winds.  Here’s a tracking map, showing Felicia heading towards the Aloha state. Here’s a satellite image showing this impressive hurricane in relation to the Hawaiian Islands.

Hurricane Felicia continues to show a fierce face Thursday night, but should begin to lose some steam starting Friday.
The sustained winds around the center were still blowing at 115 knots, or 132 mph…with gusts to 140 knots…or 161 mph Thursday evening. The hurricane is expected to gradually weaken throughout the rest of its life cycle. Nonetheless, it’s forecast to still be a tropical storm as it nears our Hawaiian Islands. The latest National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast has Felicia being downgraded to a tropical depression after passing the Big Island.

If the current NHC forecast remains true, with a weakening tropical storm, or a tropical depression brushing by the southern islands in the chain…we could see the following influences. The first thing we would see would be rising surf along our east facing shores, perhaps as early as later Sunday or Monday…which could bring dangerous breaking waves to our beaches. As Felicia gets closer, we could see locally blustery weather…again depending upon the storm’s strength then. Finally, if this tropical system were to come in over, or close to the southern part of the state, we would see increasing clouds, and potentially heavy flooding rainfall early next week.

Despite the intensity of major hurricane Felicia at this time, we see encouragement ahead…as the storm begins a weakening process as it moves in our direction.  The latest NHC forecast continues to show weakening of this tropical cyclone, as it nears the Aloha state. Perhaps the biggest threat now would be for potentially heavy rainfall. There’s also that chance of blustery winds as well…with the outside chance of tropical storm force winds around the Big Island. We still have many days to work out the details, and there will be more fine adjustments to the track and strength…before Felicia finally makes some sort of contact with our islands.

As the NWS forecast office in Honolulu has been saying: "At this time, it is too early to determine the exact track and intensity Felicia will have as it approaches the Hawaiian islands. That said, we are heading into the climatological peak of the central Pacific hurricane season, and Felicia serves as a reminder to always have a hurricane preparedness plan in place during the official central north Pacific hurricane season, which continues through November 30."

It’s Wednesday evening here in Kihei, Maui, as I begin writing this last part of today’s narrative. If you had a chance to read down through this entire page, you know that there is a very strong hurricane in the eastern Pacific, which is heading our way. The good news is that as it moves over a cooler ocean surface, and pushes westward, it will also run into stronger winds at upper levels of the atmosphere. These are both conditions that inhibit further strengthening of a storm…and usually cause a rather pronounced weakening. Nonetheless, we should continue to monitor the progress of this storm. ~~~ I will be back early Friday morning with more cutting edge information about the approach of hurricane Felicia. I hope you have a great Thursday night, and at this point, I personally won’t be losing any sleep over the consequences of this close brush, with what will likely be rapidly weakening tropical cyclone Felicia. I’ll also go on record in saying that we certainly aren’t out of the woods yet either…we all need to keep a close watch on this potential inclement weather producer for our state of Hawaii! ~~~ By the way, I just checked the number of page impressions that this website received Thursday, and due to the high traffic count, those folks who were looking for information on hurricane Felicia, the number was 22,080…one of the largest numbers since the last big weather event happened here in the islands. Of those, there were 248 clicks on my google ads, which is one way that I make money, for keeping this website updated on a daily basis. Aloha for now…Glenn.

Dedicated to all you cat lovers…of which I’m one – lovely!

Interesting: Stories of ships mysteriously sent to watery graves by sudden, giant waves have long puzzled scientists and sailors. New research by San Francisco State professor Tim Janssen suggests that changes in water depth and currents, which are common in coastal areas, may significantly increase the likelihood of these extreme waves.

Published in the Journal of Physical Oceanography, Janssen’s wave model simulations show that focusing of waves by shoals and currents could increase the likelihood of a freak wave by as much as 10 times. Although scientists cannot predict the occurrence of individual extreme waves, Janssen’s findings help pinpoint conditions and locations favorable for giant waves.

Extreme waves, also known as "freak" or "rogue" waves, measure roughly three times the size of the average wave height of a given sea state. Recorded monster waves have exceeded 60-feet — the approximate size of a six-story building. Janssen’s research suggests that in areas where wave energy is focused, the probability of freak-waves is much greater than previously believed.

Wave focal zones are particularly common in coastal areas where water depth variations and strong currents can result in dramatic focusing of wave energy. Such effects are particularly well known around river mouths and coastal inlets, restricting accessibility for shipping due to large, breaking waves near the inlet, or resulting in erosion issues at nearby beaches.

Extreme examples of wave focusing over coastal topography include world-class surf spots, such as Mavericks and Cortez Banks in California. The identification of freak wave hot spots is also important for shipping and navigation in coastal areas, and the design of offshore structures.

Interesting2: The non-profit Clean Air Watch today said the U.S. EPA is on track to get a passing grade for its proposal to deal with dangerous nitrogen dioxide air pollution.  But Clean Air Watch added that the agency was "a long way from an A+" and it urged the EPA to "get that grade up" in order "to protect kids with asthma" and other breathers. The comments came in testimony at an EPA hearing on an agency proposal to update national clean air standards for nitrogen dioxide.

This widespread pollutant originates in traffic exhaust and the emissions from coal burning power plants and other smokestack industries. The current standard was set in 1971. "This issue is a test for how the Obama administration’s EPA will deal with national clean air standards," noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

"The Bush administration failed miserably. All too often it ignored the science — and the agency’s own science advisers," O’Donnell said. "By contrast, we think the new EPA is on track for a passing grade with its proposal for nitrogen dioxide. But it’s a long way from an A+ when it comes to protecting kids with asthma.

We think it’s probably more like a B or C right now," depending on a range of options the agency has advanced. "We’d like you to get that grade up. We think kids with asthma deserve no less than A+ public health protection," said O’Donnell.

Clean Air Watch supports the recommendations of the American Lung Association, which has urged tougher short-term and long-term nitrogen dioxide standards in addition to a better system of monitoring.

O’Donnell also noted that "dirty air" is "the forgotten topic when it comes to health care reform." "It will cost a lot less to keep people out of the emergency rooms. And one way to do this is to reduce dangerous nitrogen dioxide pollution," O’Donnell said.  

Interesting3: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists studying shorebirds in western Arctic Alaska recently made a serendipitous discovery when they spotted a bar-tailed godwit with a small orange flag and aluminum band harmlessly attached to its legs. Further research revealed that scientists in Australia had banded the bird and attached the flag near Victoria – more than 8,000 miles away. While banded birds are sometimes seen in the area where they were originally released, it is very rare to see them so far from a release site.

The observation was made by WCS biologists Dr. Steve Zack and Joe Liebezeit. “It’s extremely unusual to find a banded bird that has flown literally thousands of miles from where it was released,” said Steve Zack. “While we know that birds from all over the world come to the Arctic to breed, to see a living example first hand is a powerful reminder of the importance of this region.”

Zack and Liebezeit also sighted a banded dunlin and semi-palmated sandpiper both of which were originally marked and released by WCS scientists three years ago in nearby Prudhoe Bay, Alaska for a study testing to see if birds that winter in Asia are carrying highly pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza to North America.

Semi-palmated sandpipers migrate from South America, and dunlins migrate from Asia . So far, shorebirds have not been detected to carry H5N1 into North America . “These sightings represent direct examples of the importance of Arctic Alaska as an international gathering place for migratory birds,” said Jodi Hilty, Director of WCS’s North America Programs.

“Birds from every continent and every ocean come to Arctic Alaska to breed during the short summer,” said Zack “The immense wetlands of western Arctic Alaska, encompassed almost entirely by the National Petroleum Reserve, are particularly important to migratory birds and worth conserving.”

Interesting4: Hollywood is world famous for many things — celebrities, sunshine, and shopping among them. But a new Hollywood attraction is the first of its kind: Environmentaland, an eco-themed park that opened this month at Hollywood Boulevard and North Highland Avenue.

The park is expected to entertain adults and kids alike, with attractions including an energy-generating see-saw, alternative energy-fueled golf carts, recycled paper plane takeoff, mini-bin exhibit and designing station, desert mini golf, planetarium, organic pet treats, and "Portal Potties" — mini entertainment history museums encased in redesigned porta potties.

As an added perk — and a strong hint toward sustainable travel — visitors who travel to the park via public transport pay no admission. (Students also get in free.) In addition to these year-round attractions, the park will host special events including art shows, film screenings, recycling drives, and design contests.

Global Inheritance is the organization responsible for creating Environmentaland. The non-profit aims to bring about social, environmental, and community change by engaging young people. Global Inheritance runs a number of ongoing programs, including TRASHed — Art of Recycling (a recycling awareness campaign), Tour Rider (a traffic reduction initiative),

The Bigger Picture film nights (which expose issues global warming and other issues), and Alternative Fuel RC Racing (which allows participants to race miniature-sized alt-fueled cars). Its past projects include the organizing of a free shuttle to Coachella Music Festival to minimize the event’s carbon footprint.  

Interesting5: Advances in ecology increasingly reveal that conventional agricultural practices have detrimental effects on the landscape ecology, creating problems for long-term sustainability of crops. In a series of sessions at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual Meeting, ecologists will present their ideas on how our agricultural practices can take lessons from natural environments. Perennial plants produce more, require less input than annual croplands.

The major crops used globally to feed people and livestock — wheat, rice, maize and soy — are based on an annual system, in which crop plants live one year, are harvested, and are replanted the following year. These systems are notorious, however, for stripping organic nutrients from soils over time.  

Interesting6: The federal government must take decisive action to avoid "a potentially catastrophic loss of animal and plant life," in the national parks, according to a new report that details the effect of global warming on the country’s most treasured public lands. The 53-page report from the National Parks Conservation Assn., a Washington-based advocacy group, contains a litany of concerns related to climate change in the parks, from the bleaching of coral reefs in Florida to the disappearance of high-altitude ponds that nurture yellow-legged frogs in California.

The group, which has offices in California and 10 other states, called on the National Park Service to come up with a detailed plan and funding to adapt to temperature-related ecosystem changes. "Right now, no national plan exists to manage wildlife throughout their habitat, which often is a patchwork of lands managed by multiple federal agencies, states, tribes, municipalities and private landholders," wrote Tom C. Kiernan, president of the group.

Interesting7:  Within 60 years the Arctic Ocean could be a stagnant, polluted soup. Without drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions, the Transpolar Drift, one of the Arctic’s most powerful currents and a key disperser of pollutants, is likely to disappear because of global warming. The Transpolar Drift is a cold surface current that travels right across the Arctic Ocean from central Siberia to Greenland, and eventually out into the Atlantic. It was first discovered in 1893 by the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen, who tried unsuccessfully to use the current to sail to the North Pole.

Together with the Beaufort Gyre, the Transpolar Drift keeps Arctic waters well mixed and ensures that pollution never lingers there for long. To better understand the dispersal of pollution in the Arctic Ocean, Ola Johannessen, director of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Bergen, Norway, and his colleagues studied the spread of radioactive substances such as strontium-90 and caesium-137 from nuclear testing, bomb factories and nuclear power-plant accidents.

Measurements taken between 1948 and 1999 were plugged into a high-resolution ocean circulation model and combined with a climate model to predict Arctic Ocean circulation until 2080.

Interesting8: The active ingredient in many insect repellents, deet, has been found to be toxic to the central nervous system. Researchers say that more investigations are urgently needed to confirm or dismiss any potential neurotoxicity to humans, especially when deet-based repellents are used in combination with other neurotoxic insecticides.

Vincent Corbel from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in Montpellier, and Bruno Lapied from the University of Angers, France, led a team of researchers who investigated the mode of action and toxicity of deet (N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide).

Corbel said, "We’ve found that deet is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals". Discovered in 1953, deet is still the most common ingredient in insect repellent preparations.

It is effective against a broad spectrum of medically important pests, including mosquitoes. Despite its widespread use, controversies remain concerning both the identification of its target sites at the molecular level and its mechanism of action in insects.

In a series of experiments, Corbel and his colleagues found that deet inhibits the acetylcholinesterase enzyme — the same mode of action used by organophosphate and carbamate insecticides.