<newly formed Lake Hilo>
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more wet…! Sure, East side Big Island residents are used to downpours, sometimes non-stop torentials lasting weeks, months… It’s often considered one of the wettest cities in the U.S. – though most lists on the topic omit it because they only focus on the 48 mainland states. Records at the National Weather Service explain:
Within the city of Hilo, average rainfall varies from about 130 inches a year near the shore to as much as 200 inches upslope. The wettest part of the island, with a mean annual rainfall exceeding 300 inches, lies about 6 miles upslope from the city limits.
For a girl with curls who should avoid at-all-costs humid weather… how did I end up in such a wet place? Well, surely many people -even those without frizz-prone hair- have found themselves pondering such things. With the “drought” of the past few years here, many of us have forgotten or never had a chance to experience just how merciless tropical rainforest rain can get. As the housing market boon went amok -housing costs on the Big Island increasing 2, 3, 4 fold- it seemed the island was too quickly being invaded by city goers, rich folk wanting more vacation homes and a miscellaneous variety of others escaping mainland life. They ending up in “sunny” Hilo thinking they scored!
But then, the rain! It’s funny, because you see these same people who were all giddy a year ago -got their lava rock acre for under $30,000, or their oceanfront mansion for under a mil- now hopelessly lost, unhappy, and not knowing what to do with themselves besides planning mainland trips to the desert. It’s not that they didn’t score, it’s just that if they ended up here thinking they just bought into this picture-postcard Hawai’i lifestyle – they may have been misled.
Speaking to one newbie just yesterday, he repeated a number of times during our conversation how he has never seen so much rain in his life, “We only get two inches a year in Arizona.” All I could think was how we probably got half an inch during the short time in which we spoke. “I might move back…it’s hard with my arthritis” he explained, “I’m retired anyways.” How many others are making such plans? As if the reality of the high cost of living, the crashing economy, the lack of employment opportunities weren’t enough… now the realities of tropical weather are rearing their ugly wet head.
I may have already mentioned that we are in need of sponsors. ‘Cause if we had a real camera (i.e. something better than a cell phone), well then, you might be able to see that the barely noticeable dots in the photo here are actually two guys. If I had a digital video camera, you would see they are swimming across what just yesterday were the Hilo soccer fields. In the top photo, you would notice in this newly formed lake the tip of the goal post showing above of the water. Or the roofs of soaking SUVs in the background, which were sadly left by their owner, parked in the wrong place at the wrong time. As I type this, rivers are raging through subdivision communities that are typically closer to lava flows than those made of water. Waterfalls are forming new paths, causing earth to crumble under its power, inspiring landslides to come. And of course, adding to river mouth surf spots more brown dirt to sepia color the chocolaty flash-floods. Yeah, for the surfer, the worst part about unrelenting rain is when, instead of it creating glassy conditions, it destroys the joys of a High Surf Advisory.
If you East Hawai’i Island locals were hoping to dry out anytime soon, your best bet is to hide out in Kona. Hilo’s chance of precipitation will vary between 70-100% until next week Friday. As for those of us who don’t mind getting wet as long as we’re surfing in it, we’ll have to hope the potential for riding this swell isn’t washed away with the storm.
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Country of Hawaii (click on Civil Defense) includes updates on road closures, school closures, flash flood info, power outages, cancelled services, etc.
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Hilo Emergency Shelter Open: The American Red Cross is opening an emergency shelter at Aunty Sally’s Luau House this morning for residents who are unable to access their homes due to heavy rain and flooding in the Hilo area. Aunty Sally’s Luau House is located at 799 Piilani St., Hilo, HI.