When storms are named and media starts click baiting the looming disaster, there’s an expectation of a certain level of death and destruction, accompanied by adequate catastrophic imagery. If the gratification goes unfulfilled, unsatiated social media fiends hijack the threads and call everyone out for “crying wolf.”
This often happens with Hawai’i, whether it be for potential tsunamis or hurricanes. The tsunami comes in at a few feet with no Fukushima kine drama. The hurricane doesn’t impact land or turns into a tropical storm along the way (which is typical because of the effects of the massive mountain volcanos Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea), and it’s like someone let all the air outta the balloon.
Follow-up headlines will proclaim “Tsunami hits… Little Damage”, as they did after the Honshu Tsunami in 2011, even though there was actually over $30 million in damages. There was no Japan-horror footage, people getting swept out to sea (though a few ignoring warnings did in Cali), but the impacts were still profound for our lil’ isles. Boats, docks, businesses destroyed; Kona Village still hasn’t reopened five years later.
When in 2014 Hurricane Iselle didn’t seem to pack enough punch, social media was rife with complaints. And the follow-up news reports barely covered the effects on Puna, which left many with damaged homes, trapped by fallen trees, without power for almost a month. Though it was a let-down in terms of action / drama, damage across the islands was about $80 million, making it the third-costliest to ever hit the state.
Reality is, in Hawai’i we don’t need a direct impact to feel the repercussions. A little river can quickly turn into a massive flood zone with heavy rains (everything flows rapidly off the mountains / volcanos to the sea). These storms dumping over 15″ in a day is not unusual, and can easily result in flash floods (which have been known to wash oblivious tourists out to sea). Many low-lying areas, from Hanalei to Waikiki to Hilo, have a bad habit of flooding (Oahu was a temporary shit-storm just last month from Hurricane Darby). There are many who live beach front, who only need an storm swell and a high tide to be at risk. As far as the winds, we have too many invasive albizia, which do not need hurricane force to break or completely topple – as we saw with Iselle crushing homes and taking down the tree tunnel Pahoa.
This slideshow from a random 2012 storm that got little buzz: two weeks of rain, 50″ in a week, the highway blocked, towns flooded, crossing ragin’ rivers with ropes to get home….
Those who lived through the tsunamis of the ’40s, ’60s, or Hurricane Iniki in ’92 – or heard the tales – probably don’t mind precautionary warnings. Better safe than sorry. Sure we’re used to natural disaster events being downgraded after lots of hoopla. You simply can’t be certain of the worst-case scenario (aka a hurricane AND an Obama visit). In this case, hopefully the side-effects of Madeline and Lester won’t be too bad. If they don’t live up to the hype, we’re really really okay with that!
*All posteed videos are from Hurricane Madeline; sources shown.
Check Hawaii Weather / Storm Updates Here: