We’re celebrating the return today of Hawaii trade winds after a two week absence. It’s been hot and sticky here both day and night leaving Hawaii feeling similar to Florida in the summer. Tradewinds blow most of the time. It is our natural weather moderator and air conditioning, making Hawaii weather completely unique and superb.
We think of trade winds as coming from Alaska, because they are cool and dry (although they also bring mountain showers). You can hear them rustling in the trees as they blow gently from the north and east. These have been called trade winds for centuries, from a time when cargo ships were dependent on them for fast movement. And they are the reason you seldom need air conditioning in Hawaii. In fact many of us here dislike air conditioning and find it both unnecessary and expensive (with by far the most costly electricity in the country).
Kona Conditions Defined
We’re not talking coffee here. When we don’t have trade winds, either no winds are present or winds blow from the south. We call these Kona conditions. They can occur at any time, but we often associate them with winter storm conditions.
Since the Kilauea volcano began erupting in 1983, Kona winds can also bring volcanic fog (Vog) up the island chain. This makes visibility poor and causes eye and respiratory irritation. In fact Vog feels quite like smog with another name.
Current Hawaii Weather Conditions
While we’re enjoying the cooler, dryer air, and scrumptious fall weather, NOAA is forcasting yet another bout of warm sticky air sometime next week.