Rainy Side View: Hawaii’s weather generally overhyped

I’m always amused by weather reports in Hawaii because there’s usually nothing to report. But when I lived in Seattle, I paid attention since I needed to know if snow or ice were on the way.

One winter’s eve, snow started falling after dinner, and meteorologists warned that we were in for a blizzard. The children cheered because they knew that tomorrow would be a “snow day,” so they could sleep in and, maybe later, go outside to sled down the hill.


When we woke up the next morning, imagine our surprise to see the sun shining, melting every snowflake that had fallen the night before. I hustled the kids, fed them a hasty breakfast, and hurried them off to school.

Groggy and grumpy, they wanted to know what happened to the snow. I told them Mother Nature, that rascal wahine, was laughing her head off.

When I was young, I remember watching a weather balloon float up over Lyman Field in Hilo. After disappearing out of sight, it must have sent back reports like these: Sun with a chance of rain. Or rain with a chance of sun. What else? That’s it.

It’s Hawaii, where the weather is pretty much the same. Isn’t that why we love it?

But nowadays, while tuning into local television news shows, I am bemused when a weather report is inserted between breaking stories.

“Double-axe murder in Waikiki today, and rain in the forecast tomorrow!”

OK, I exaggerate, but news flash: Island weather is rarely a headliner. Of course, we have to be concerned when there’s a hurricane heading in our direction, but do we really need to know when it’s 3,000 miles away and starting to form off the coast of Mexico? How about just telling us when it’s time to board up our windows?

I used to wonder how come there were no hurricanes when I was growing up in Hilo, but now I know that in addition to climate change, it’s also because today’s technology is more sophisticated than weather balloons.

Yes, hurricanes were there in the vast Pacific, but they usually veered off or petered out before hitting any of the Hawaiian Islands. Kinda like now.

Weather forecasting is an inexact science, but the newfangled tools are impressive. On TV, the psychedelic swirly patterns of wind and pressure systems over the ocean are mesmerizing for a few seconds until I fall down dizzy and drooling.

Then there are island television weather personalities, engaging and entertaining, gorgeous and fashionably dressed in fabulous outfits just so they can tell us how hot it’ll be tomorrow and that the trade winds will be back. Oh, goodie. Champagne for everyone.

Here’s my input: Instead of dazzling visual productions in a weather zone with not much variety, let’s have more real news from the neighbor islands by an on-site reporter. This would be way more informative than announcing the humidity level, which I already know from the shirt that’s sticking to my sweaty back. But the surf report is useful, so keep that.

Today, temperature readings for the next eight days are inexplicably posted, but what say we go back to an earlier time, when tomorrow’s forecast for every island simply scrolled down on the TV screen at the end of the news program?

Back then, we used to ask each other: How’s the weather? Whether you can come play my house, or whether I can eat that musubi.

So. How’s the weather? Whether islanders need the kind of elaborate weather reports that air on the continent.


I say no need.

Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. She welcomes your comments at rainysideview@gmail.com. Her column appears every other Monday.

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