Category Archives: Weather

The golfball

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Towering.’ See more responses here.

Up near the top of Kohala Mountain is this array of towers. They sit in the middle of pastureland, surrounded by cattle and horses. The one with the large white ball on top is NEXRAD, the Next Generation Weather Radar, which provides current time information showing where clouds and rain are moving through the area. It’s also a navigation aid to local pilots who refer to it as the golfball.

The cattle don’t have access to the information from the golfball, but they know that when they’re wet, it’s raining, and when they’re dry, it’s not, and really that’s all anyone needs to know.

Early morning pu’u

In Hawaii, a pu’u is a hill. These are old cinder cones that dot the landscape from the coast to the top of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

Along Old Saddle Road, the land and it’s pu’us are grass-covered. This pastureland is cattle, horse, and sheep country, with a lot of goats thrown in for good measure. The land is steep and and rough and the grass varied, but the rainfall is heavy enough that there’s a lot of it.

Old Saddle Road is one of my favorite drives on the island, particularly in the early morning (above) and late afternoon (below).

Posted in response to Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘Splendour in the Grass.’ See more responses here.

Big Island bodies of water

A view of Waipi'o Valley taken from the mouth of the river
Waipi’o Valley
Kohala waterfall
Rainbow Falls, Hilo
Lake Waiau.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Bodies of Water.’ (See more responses here.) Last Sunday, I posted photos of the Kohala valleys. This week, I’m posting a bit about what goes on in them and elsewhere on the island.

The top photo is shows the mouth of the Waipi’o River looking back toward the cloud shrouded Kohala hills. The river, is fed by water passing over Hi’ilawe Falls and other waterfalls deep in the fingers of the valley. Like all water courses on the Big Island, its flow is greatly increased by the often heavy rainfall.

The second photo shows a waterfall, farther down the coast, cascading into a pool at the bottom before flowing out to the ocean. Some of these waterfalls drop more than a thousand feet. Some cascade into valleys, some directly into the ocean. During dry spells, the water flows are greatly reduced and many falls, those that are entirely rain fed, disappear for a while. When rains are heavy, the water flow is so great that some falls blend together to form a sheet of falling water.

On the east side of the island is Wailuku River, the longest river on the island. This flows down to the ocean in Hilo, and on its way, tumbles over the aptly named Rainbow Falls (third photo). The falls and rainbows are best seen in the early morning. This stretch of the river is very dangerous with flash floods being common. People get swept away here every year.

Finally, the bottom photo shows the biggest lake on the island, which can be found at the top of Mauna Kea! Lake Waiau is fed by rainwater and snow melt, mostly in the winter. That it exists at all is something of a mystery. The ground on Mauna Kea is highly permeable, and it’s not fully understood what the layer is beneath Lake Waiau that enables it to retain water. Lake Waiau is not just the biggest lake on the island, it’s the only one. Green Lake, the biggest lake previously, disappeared during Kilauea’s 2018 eruption (photos and story here).

Lāhainā Noon

Photographers are encouraged to take advantage of the golden hour shortly after sunrise or shortly before sunset, when the light is soft and golden. Photos taken here during the golden hour showcase the wonders of Hawaii’s beaches, volcanoes, and wildlife.

Taking that as my cue, I feature one of the wonders of Hawaii in these photos. No, it’s not concrete lamp bases, which can be found in most, if not all, states. Nor is it the golden hour. But only in Hawaii can you find a concrete lamp base like this one. It’s a sunny day. Those rectangular shadows are from the lights at the top of the lamp pole. But where’s the shadow of the concrete base? There isn’t one, because these photos were taken at Lāhainā Noon.

Lāhainā Noon, a name thought up by the good folks at the Bishop Museum, occurs when the sun is directly overhead on its apparent passage north and then south again, before and after the summer solstice. This phenomenon occurs in places located between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Hawaii is the only U.S. state in tropics and so is the only place in the country to see this.

The timing of Lāhainā Noon varies from place to place, depending on latitude. It occurs twice a year, the first time in May as the sun appears to head north, and then again in July as it dips south again. These photos were taken yesterday in Kawaihae, but where I live in Hawi, Lāhainā Noon occurred two days ago. The last place on the island to experience it will be South Point, the most southerly point in the U.S.A, on July 27.

The bottom photo shows the Sky Gate sculpture in Honolulu. This sculpture, designed by Isamu Noguchi, casts a wavy shadow most of the time, but twice a year, at Lāhainā Noon, the shadow is perfectly round. The sculpture wasn’t particularly well-received initially, but now people visit from all over the world (when that’s possible) to see it do its thing.

For more information about Lāhainā Noon go here.

Posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.