I work at Hapuna on the South Kohala coast and typically, during the day, clouds build up to the north and east until Kohala Mountain, Mauna Kea, and Mauna Loa are obscured. That was the case a few days ago when I noticed a dense, dark patch rolling down the hill from Waimea. My first thought was that this was rain headed my way, but it looked odd. It proved to be smoke, a fact soon confirmed when the smell filled the air.
The smoke came from a brush fire, 30 miles away, in the vicinity of Pa’auilo on the Hamakua coast. Tradewinds blew the smoke over the saddle at Waimea and on down towards the ocean. The fire consumed about 1,400 acres of brush and eucalyptus trees before it was contained late the next day. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it’s been remarkably dry for quite a while so the fire danger is currently high.
The top two photos show smoke blotting out Kohala Mountain, the second one being taken 15 minutes after the first. (Compare this with the hillside under normal circumstances here.) The bottom photo, taken a little way north of Kawaihae, shows the plume of smoke over the ocean with clear skies to the north of it.