Sunday, December 20, 2020

Holly Jolly, Holly Jolly, No!

Winter Weather Advisory for Big Island Summits
Wintry mix of freezing rain with periods of snow.
Additional snow accumulations of up to two inches.

When we signed up for life on an island in the middle of the Pacific it didn't occur to us we'd need to bring snow shovels.

This is pretty amazing, though.

Imagine our surprise.

Turns out the highest points on the Big Island routinely get snow, because that's what happens to rain at 13,000 feet.

"The highest summits on the Big Island — Mauna Kea (13,803’) and Mauna Loa (13,678’) — receive snow on a yearly basis. From November through April, the average nightly temperature on the summit of Mauna Kea drops below 28 degrees, and a record low of 12 degrees was recorded in January of 2014. These high altitude temperatures, combined with heavy precipitation from winter storms, can lead to fierce blizzard conditions and exceptionally heavy snowfall."

Blizzards! On the Big Island! Have I ever told you I hate being cold? I really do. As much as I once loved a good snow day, I would now rather have a move somebody else's furniture day. Or a muck out the chicken coops day. Or a run an ultra with a bad stomach day.

The good news is, our house is at about 2,000 feet, where average temperatures range from 81 in the afternoon to 61 at night. According to the BestPlaces Comfort Index, "Honoka'a rates an 8.9 (10=best), which means it is more comfortable than most places in Hawaii."

If we get snow there, of all places...well, let's just hope it doesn't come to that. Because climate-change-wise, that will be regrettable.

You know what else happens on the Big Island? Magma.
Volcano Watch: Notable Magma Intrusion At Kīlauea Summit
The beginning of a new chapter in Kīlauea Volcano activity

We'll be living in a place where folks found it necessary to establish lava zones—presumably to help people make informed decisions about where to stand in the midst of a volcanic eruption. 

If you find yourself in zone 1, for example, you may want to get yourself elsewhere—soon. If you're in zone 9, on the other hand, you're probably okay—for now. 

If that turns out not to be the case—well, we'll all be in deep stuff requiring an entirely different kind of shovel.

"Recently, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s monitoring network recorded another first post-eruption event at Kīlauea’s summit: a magmatic intrusion. This followed an earthquake swarm on November 30, 2020, that was centered in the middle of Kīlauea caldera."

I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds bad. And the phrase "earthquake swarm"? That doesn't seem promising at all. If anyone needs us we'll be down by the water in zone 420.

Speaking of swarms...
Little Fire Ants Cause Big Problems
LFAs are not easy to get rid of, so an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Oh, okay.
We'll be back.

"Once little fire ants establish themselves around your house, there will be millions of them. We get many calls from people at their wit’s end as they and their children are getting stung every day. They will also sting pets and other animals. Life for a dog or a cat in a LFA-infested area can be miserable. Repeated stings to a pet’s eyes can lead to blindness."

I'm not saying this information would've changed our minds, had we known before we decided to move to the Big Island. But I'm not *not* saying it, either. 

We've raised worrying about our animals to an art form in Seattle. From hawks to off-leash dogs to speeding cars, we've lost much-loved creatures here. The idea they might one day be blinded by biting bugs is...not acceptable.

The state of Hawaii takes a dim view of invasive species as a rule, and LFAs seem to be high on their list of things to eradicate. And while this might've inspired confidence at some point on the timeline, if we've learned anything it's that "nature finds a way," in spite of (or because of) humanity's best efforts.
Of these three natural phenomena, for me, the smallest one is the most low-key stressful. Because they're like little terminators. They can't be bargained with, can't be reasoned with. "They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop...ever!"*

Who needs that? I'd rather have a snow day than an LFA day, 10 times out of 10.
“If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves.”

—Emily Dickinson

Here's hoping Emily's right.


Sundance: It's a long way though, isn't it?

Butch: Ah, everything's gotta be perfect with you!

Sundance: I just don't want to get there and find out it stinks! That's all.

Butch: At least think about it.

Sundance: All right...I'll think about it.


(*The original Terminator movie was set in the year 2029, in case you've lost track of that detail. Just saying.)

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