This weekend I got the worst sunburn. It has been a long time since I last burned this badly. Yes I was wearing sunscreen. I just forgot to re-apply. This is ironic since I worked for a dermatologist for a number of years. Ugh.
Did you know, as of 2021 by law stores in Hawaii are not allowed to sell sunscreens containing reef-damaging oxybenzone and octinoxate. Of course, you may still bring these sunscreens into Hawaii, though in the interest of protecting our reefs, we would prefer you didn’t. Here is an article by the Star Advertiser with much more information about the new law.
Which sunscreens to use? My dermatologist friend’s favorites were Blue Lizard, EltaMD and Vanicream. Another great way to avoid sunburns is to wear UV protectant clothing and hats. There is also a product called Sun Guard which claims to add UV protection when used in the wash (not sure how long it lasts, I think you need to re-use it from time to time).
I don’t know about you – but I really don’t like wearing sunscreen. My preferred way to avoid sunburns is to stay inside until 4pm and then venture out. Yes, I realize I am missing out of beautiful days in the sun and I guess you should still wear sunscreen even after 4pm… but I’m not much of a beach body anyway, so I’m usually ok with that.
The best way not to get a sunburn is to protect your skin. But when it’s too late….. hydrate, use aloe or aloe products, pop a few Advil for the pain, stay out of the sun and then moisturize to minimize large scale skin flaking. One product I came across a few years ago and love is Mauivera. On Maui you can find it at ABC stores, grocery and drug stores. Yes, Amazon carries it too. Do avoid after-sun products containing alcohol.
As for me – my sunburn is slowly calming down. Yes, I’ve learned my lesson. I will be covering up or staying in the shade for the foreseeable future.
It’s that time of year again – hurricane season. In the Central Pacific (as in the Caribbean) hurricane season runs from June to November. However our most active months are definitely July – September.
With that in mind, we have two hurricanes currently on their way to visit Hawaii. We’re just such a popular vacation destination. I kid.
Hurricane Erick looks like it’s set to miss hitting us and is forecast to pass to the South of the State of Hawaii. However, they are forecasting dangerous surf, some wind and possibly rain.
Hurricane Flossie is on Erick’s tail, possibly arriving Sunday or Monday. She was recently downgraded to a tropical storm. has a much more direct forecasted path which currently looks like it will pass across the Hawaiian Islands, or at least very close. However, as at last night’s new forecast model, it looks like she may cut to the North of us.
What does this mean for Maui?
In 9 years of living on Maui, we have been very fortunate and have not experienced a direct hurricane hit. Numerous hurricanes have been obliterated by Big Island’s two large shield volcanoes (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa). Also, hurricanes have in the past typically slowed down and dissipated prior to actually arriving. Of course, every storm is different and so you do need to watch and monitor them and be prepared.
Possible rain: to be honest, we are praying for rain. Rain would be wonderful as Maui is so dry (hence the fires we’ve been having recently). However be aware that rain can cause run-off into the ocean, creating murky water conditions at the beach. If the water is murky, stay out! There is an increased risk of getting an infection should you have any cuts/abrasions (who knows what is in the water) and sharks come closer to land to check out the run-off.
Expect storm surge and changed ocean currents. Besides getting pummeled by unpredictable wave action, ocean currents can drag you unexpectedly out to sea. Best to stay out of the water. If you must, go to a beach with life guards present and ask them for their advice PRIOR to going into the water. If in doubt, please don’t go out.
Definitely expect humidity. Storms passing Hawaii block our wonderful trade winds which often keep the worst of the humidity at bay. Without those winds, the humidity can be here in full force.
A week ago we had a pretty bad brush fire here on Maui. It started on Wednesday July 10th near Waikapu and spread rapidly across the Central Valley coming very close to North Kihei (and our Sugar Beach condo). The fire ended up burning 9000 acres of brush land. This is mostly former sugar cane land.
As you may recall, A&B finished their sugar cane operations on Maui with their final harvest in December 2016. Since then the land has mostly been fallow, with sugar cane regrowth, weeds and of course kiawe trees growing wild. During their sugar cane operation A&B would irrigate the fields regularly, keeping them nice and green until about 2 years in, when they would have controlled burns and then harvest the sugar cane. These controlled burns would of course generate their fair share of ash particularly in North Kihei. Locals called it ‘Maui Snow’, black ash on cars and roads in the morning. However, A&B would then work up the fields within a few days and things would settle down again.
Last year A&B sold 41,000 acres of sugar cane land to Mahi Pono, a joint venture between a California agricultural group and ironically one of Canada’s largest pension funds. They have very slowly been starting to work up some acres and planting. Unfortunately it’s been an incredibly slow process. We were so used to the green central valley. It’s been brown and dry ever since cessation of the sugar cane operation now. In fact, there have been brush fires the past few summers, prompting the landowners to work up or disk buffer zones near roads as a form of fire break.
On July 10 the fire came so close to North Kihei, our guests at our Sugar Beach condo were evacuated. The Mokulele Hwy (now known as Veterans Hwy) and North Kihei Road to Ma’alaea were both closed due to the fire and heavy smoke and people missed their flights (including me – we had an inter-island flight to Oahu for a hockey tournament). The community pulled together, opened shelters and eventually everyone got to where they needed to go.
In wonderful news, there was no damage to inhabited buildings at all. To our knowledge, noone died in the fire. The police have an ongoing arson investigation for both this fire and a smaller fire which was started between the new Kahului Safeway and Target and the Sugar Cane factory on July 11.
What to expect when you come to Maui?
You’ll noticed the burned area in the central valley as you fly in – in fact, I would love to see your pictures! You’ll see the burned area as you drive across the central valley. You will see the dust blowing badly in the central valley and into North Kihei during certain times of the day. Here in South Kihei we are still getting some ash on our lanai.
However, fire fighters brought the fire under control within two days and are working to put out any flare ups that occur. We are so thankful for these men and women!
Our Sugar Beach condo is fine – no damage. There is still a lot of dust, we apologize. Join us in praying for rain. I’m not sure what else to do to help calm the dust down.
Last weekend we went on a family hike. One of my favorite hikes on Maui is the Waihou Spring Trail in Olinda. I should qualify, usually we just do the 1 mile loop in the pine forest and call it a day. It’s an easy stroll and generally not busy at all. There is an off-shoot from the loop leading to the Waihou Spring Trail which we always walk down. But – there’s always a but – then you get to a danger sign, warning you of certain death.
The thing about hiking upcountry Maui is that it very often rains up there, so the switchback trail to the springs is often wet. This past Sunday however it was dry. Add to that, we had family along that are generally more adventurous than we are, so we thought – well, why not. Down a series of switchbacks we carefully walked to the bottom of the gorge where we found a sweet waterfall with caves behind it. And a rooster. Don’t ask me what the rooster was doing in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of the gorge. I didn’t see any chickens around. I can only presume he got lost, or accidentally went down there. Who knows. The hike out of the gorge was steep, but we all made it back out and lived to tell the tale! I would not recommend this hike if it’s wet.
Where is the Waihou Spring Trail
This trail is located upcountry Maui. To get there, drive up to Makawao. Turn right onto Baldwin and just follow the road up the mountain. The road will get narrower and narrower. Slow down, take your time and enjoy the views and watch for traffic. Eventually you pass the Maui Bird Conservation Center (to your left) and enter into a pine forest. You will shortly see parking on the right side. It will take you about an hour to get here from Kihei.
For the past few weeks we’ve been hearing about winter stories on the US mainland and Canada. My cousin in Edmonton looked up the temperature in Antarctica and told me Edmonton had matching temperatures the other day (one day I would love to go on a cruise to Antarctica – not for the temperature, but just to SEE it, even just from a distance).
Here on Maui we heard about your suffering and decided to join the club. Well, not that we had anything to do with it. There is some sort of low pressure system to the north of us bringing cool temperatures and strong winds. This morning the temperature was a frosty 60F (roughly 15.5 Celsius). Those of you who know me know that I hate heat (I know, I live on Maui – what am I doing?). I am cold. I am actually wearing a hoody and have closed the windows in an effort to preserve heat.
Maui County has closed the South Maui (Kihei) beach parks because of danger of large swell. North Shore beach parks have also been closed. Apparently we are expecting waves up to 60 ft (that would be on the North shore, not in Kihei). Today is a good day to stay inside or go shopping.
Haleakala National Park is closed due to high gusts of wind (up to 80 mph). Also apparently it’s snowing with a forecast of up to 3 inches. Remember your rental car does NOT have decent tires, please don’t drive up there. There are no emergency services, snow plows, salt/sand trucks. Plus there will be local families eager to see snow – some for the first time 🙂
We aren’t going to die.
Yes, this is unusual, even for Maui winter. But we aren’t going to die. We aren’t even going to freeze. Since we don’t have a furnace, we’ll just dress a little warmer. If you are on Maui, please stay out of the ocean until the storm dies down and waters have stopped churning. Remember, stay out of the ocean if it is brown or murky. This is particularly when sharks come out to feed. Plus you could get a nasty infection from run-off in the water.
I’m sure the weather will go back to normal and warm up soon. At least that’s what we’re hoping for!
I thought I’d post a short update on Hurricane Lane on our blog.
August 24 5 PM update. It turns out Hurricane Lane is no more. Thankfully the storm has been weakening and is now ‘just’ a Tropical Storm with maximum winds of 70 mph. Wow. What an incredible ride. We had 2 hours of steady rain this morning and word that the hurricane had stalled at speeds of 2 mph – more delays while it deteriorated. Don’t get me wrong – we are incredibly thankful. Just three days ago we were staring at a Category 5 hurricane headed straight at us. After days of preparation and stressing, today was quite anticlimactic in Kihei. I went for a nice walk in the rain this morning along South Kihei Road (about a third of stores/restaurants were open). Then we did some necessary de-cluttering in our home.
At noon neighbors who were also feeling stir-crazy asked us to join them for lunch. So we had a pre-hurricane lunch at Nalus. I had been snacking (on hurricane supplies), so I wasn’t terribly hungry. I had their fruit bowl while my son enjoyed the mac nut pancakes. Delicious and fun and a good distraction for us all.
August 24 7 AM update. It’s been a quiet peaceful night here in Kihei. We left the bamboo wind chimes hanging on our lanai as it would be sure to wake me if we got wind. Nothing. It’s overcast and dry with no wind. This has got to be the slowest moving hurricane ever. The good news is it’s now at Category 2 status – with winds at 110 mph.
In other news on island – last night a brush fire started up near Lahaina. It’s been windy up there with gusts up to 50 mph, and the fire has spread badly. Officials had to move the emergency shelter out of harms way and entire neighborhoods are being evacuated. The highways encircling West Maui have been closed which means there is no way for anyone to get to the hospital (in Wailuku) other than by helicopter.
August 23 9:30 PM update. It’s been a slow day here in Kihei. It’s been overcast and there’s been some drizzle. Upcountry there were about 2000 people out of power and apparently Kahului airport (OGG) lost power also. But so far we are still waiting. The hurricane’s speed has slowed some more. Moving at only 6 miles an hour, this means that even though the intensity has come down, the storm has even more time to unload moisture and rain. Parts of Big Island got doused today. Soon it will be our turn. In the mean time, here’s what sunset looked like in our part of Maui.
Currently in Kihei (it’s 3:50 AM HST on Thursday 8/23/18) it is calm and quiet. Yesterday afternoon we had some gusts up to 30 mph according to my husband’s weather station. We went for an evening walk down to the beach yesterday and were caught in rain shower.
June through November is hurricane season in the Pacific and as of now we have Hurricane Lane, a category 4 hurricane, preparing to pass close to the Hawaiian Islands Thursday/Friday. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. I guess now is the time to do it. This is more of a general post on what to be aware of if staying in one of OUR condos. It is by all means NOT intended to be an all-inclusive list, but hopefully will give you some sense of what to expect.
Please note that in case of a disaster, Sig and I will be in touch and try to help as much as we can.
KNOW YOUR CONDO’S STREET ADDRESS. Note that the condo’s cable phone will NOT work during a power outage.
During a disaster it is important to keep calm and use common sense. The condo’s front desk of the property will become the resort’s command center. Please listen to the local news and check with the front desk for more information. During a disaster the Maui Police Department is inundated with calls – they will triage these 9-1-1 calls. It is important for you to secure your valuables (we have a safe at each of our condos).
For hurricanes and tsunamis (except locally generated) you will have time to prepare.
Check your condo’s binder on whether you are in the flood zone and need to evacuate (Sugar Beach Resort and Kihei Surfside yes, Palms at Wailea and Maui Kamaole no). Portions of South Kihei Road itself are considered flood zone and may be blocked off – you may not be able to leave the property after the event. The local power plants and water treatment facilities are also in the flood zone. Be prepared to go up to seven days without water, electricity and outside help. Clean the bathtub and fill it and as many containers as you can find with fresh tap water. Locate and check the condo’s flashlight, check batteries. Charge all your electronic devices. If you have time, stock up on food, paper plates, batteries (for flashlight & radio), gasoline (for your rental car), cash (possibility of no credit card/bank machines in power failure) etc. Avoid unnecessary travel as the roads become clogged quickly.
Earthquakes cause landslides, property damage, and tsunami waves.
Local earthquakes are no-notice events. There is no way to predict them. If you feel an earthquake, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
If there is a local earthquake, it typically takes 3-5 minutes for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to let Civil Defense know if a local tsunami has been generated. If the earthquake is strong enough to knock you off balance and you are in an evacuation zone, move uphill as soon as things stop moving. Don’t wait for a siren. You may only have a few minutes until the tsunami wave arrives.
A tsunami is a series of waves caused by a local or distant earth quake. Do not go to the beach to watch until the all-clear has been given (usually a number of hours). Tsunamis can create erratic currents and there can be debris washed into the water, so stay out of the ocean for a few days.
Maui is equipped with tsunami warning sirens (these are tested on the first day of the month at 11:45am). If you hear them sounding otherwise, move to higher ground and tune in to local news for more information. The siren closest to you may be out of order. If you are in a remote area, there may not be a siren. Signs of a pending tsunami: the earth shakes strong enough to knock you off balance, you hear the ocean roar, or there is a sudden pulling back of the water.
The water treatment facilities are shut down 30 minutes before the first tsunami wave is scheduled to arrive. Avoid flushing the toilet until the all-clear has been given, waste water will flow untreated into the ocean (another reason to stay out of the ocean for a few days after).
You may or may not be in a flood evacuation zone. There will be emergency shelters that open, if you do need to evacuate. Listen to the news and check the front desk for more information. Do not go to an emergency shelter until it has opened and, very importantly, you will be expected to bring your own supplies. Even if you do not need to evacuate, keep in mind you may be without water and utilities and the road may be blocked.
Hurricanes have 3 danger components: wind (can also cause tornadoes), rain and lightning, storm surge. During a hurricane, you want to button down anything loose outside (move all patio furniture inside), secure all doors and windows and then stay away from windows.
Again, you may or may not be in a flood evacuation zone. There will be emergency shelters that open, if you do need to evacuate. Listen to the news and check the front desk for more information. Do not go to an emergency shelter until it has opened and, very importantly, you will be expected to bring your own supplies.
Stay out of the ocean for several days. Storms wash debris into the ocean and stir up the ocean currents.
Did you know that the Pacific Ocean also has a hurricane season? I remember mainland news focusing in the Caribbean in years past, but yes, we also have hurricane season – and it also runs from June through November (6 months).
Normally we don’t get much hurricane wise, but a few years ago (2015 and 2016) we sure felt like we were on a roller coaster. At the time I wrote a number of blog posts about hurricanes and what to expect. With Hurricane Hector approaching the islands, I thought this would be a good time to revisit the topic.
Wait a minute? Did you say hurricane? Yup. There is a Category 4 hurricane approaching the Hawaiian Islands as we speak. For more scientific information on Hector, do check out the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s website. They have many details, cool graphs etc.
Should you be concerned? At this time forecasters are saying Hector will likely miss Hawaii and not to worry. However, they point out we should keep an eye on it, just in case. A few decades ago Hurricane Iniki, the last hurricane to do major damage to Hawaii, was also forecast to miss Hawaii. Unfortunately it veered off course and did major damage to Kauai in 1992. So yes, it’s important to be aware. But no need to panic – yet. In the past number of years any hurricanes and tropical storms that have hit Hawaii, have hit Big Island and its 2 large (14,000+ ft) volcanoes first, dismantling the storm system. Maui is so-to-say rather protected.
What to expect from Hurricane Hector
The immediate things we are likely to see are an increase in clouds, wind and humidity. We may even get rain here in Kihei (honestly, that would be a great thing – it’s bone dry). What you however can’t see, is how the ocean currents are affected by the storm. Please, during and for a few days after the storm if you must go to the beach (if the weather looks ok), go to a beach with life guards and actually take the time to ask them about the ocean conditions. These storm systems can and do affect ocean currents, stirring things up and can increase chances of shark vs human activity. Please be safe and if in doubt, do not go out.
As I mentioned, at this moment it looks like Maui will be fine. Please keep an eye on local media (Maui Now, KHON) for updates and please use common sense.
Out of curiosity – what to expect if Maui were to get hit
Good question, I haven’t actually witnessed a hurricane. I have a disaster preparedness sheet in each of our condo’s binders – review it and monitor local (not Oahu, but Maui specific) media. However, Maui’s Civil Defense has a list of what to do. Check it out.
This past weekend the Maui Roping Club hosted Maui’s 63rd annual rodeo in Makawao. Typically this rodeo is held in and around the Fourth of July, this year just a few days later. The two day event kicked off with a parade down Baldwin Avenue in Makawao. Rodeo festivities themselves started at 4pm on Saturday and again at 1pm on Sunday.
Maui has an interesting ranching history. In fact Captain George Vancouver, who had accompanied Captain Cook on his third expedition which is when they ‘discovered’ Hawaii, gifted several long-horn cattle to King Kamehameha in the late 1700s. At the time the king placed a kapu (ban) on killing/eating the cattle. As a result by the 1830s herds of cows apparently destructively roaming the island(s). This prompted King Kamehameha III to bring in Mexican cowboys to help contain the herds. These cowboys spoke Spanish (Espanol) and became known as paniolos – which is what cowboys on Maui are known as to this day.
Ranches were developed in the late 1800s. On Maui the Haleakala Cattle Company was formed in 1885 and what is now the Ulupalakua Ranch also started a ranching operation around that time. Both these ranches are still in existence today. You can go visit the Ulupalakua Ranch – their general store and winery (Maui Wine) are one of our family’s favorite upcountry lunch destinations. The Maui Wine tasting room has a room dedicated to the Ulupalakua Ranch history with plaques and photographs.
For a time ranching was the 3rd largest contributor to Hawaii’s economy. Raising cattle in Hawaii is trickier than on the mainland, due in large part to the shipping factor. Bringing in feed is very expensive, as is the cost of exporting the meat back to the US mainland. Maui beef is therefore mainly grass-fed. The droughts in recent years caused Maui ranches to drastically reduce the size of their herds. However, do look for Maui beef in local stores and restaurants – it is delicious!
But back to the rodeo… it was a fun small-town event where everyone seems to know everyone. Unfortunately it had been raining off and on, so it was a bit mucky. However drizzle does make for the most beautiful rainbows.
It’s hard to miss Hawaii in the news these days. Big Island’s Kilauea lava flow is making headlines around the world. The pictures and video footage are incredible. Unfortunately some of the media coverage has been misleading, leading people to believe all of Hawaii is under siege.
Another owner at the Palms at Wailea complex told me yesterday that a family had cancelled due to the volcanic eruption on our neighboring island. She had done her best to convince the family that their Hawaii vacation was safe, but they cancelled, losing thousands of dollars in airfare and accommodations (guess what, the cancellation insurance told them no – they weren’t covering cancellation due to an event far removed from their stay). Bummer.
So, some clarification – what is this recent lava flow on Big Island all about?
Taking it back to the basics – Hawaii is comprised of multiple islands. Our condos are located on Hawaii’s second largest island, Maui. Big Island (also known as the Island of Hawaii) is the largest and newest island in the Hawaiian island chain. Hawaii’s islands were formed by volcanic eruptions out of the ocean floor. The Island of Maui itself has one extinct volcano (West Maui Mountains) and one dormant volcano (Haleakala – its most recent eruption dating back to the 1480s). Big Island – to the East of us – is comprised of five volcanos, of which Mauna Loa and Kilauea are considered active. Mauna Loa most recently erupted around 30 years ago, Kilauea has been having continuous volcanic activity for the past 35 years.
What are the conditions on Maui – is Maui at all affected by the volcanic eruption?
I live in Kihei (in South West Maui) and these are the current conditions: the sky is blue, the air is clear, there is no effect from Kilauea’s current antics. The ocean temperature has not risen here (yes, this has been asked), we cannot see the lava, in fact, it’s business as usual here.
Can that change? Yes – the only effect that we may see is vog (volcanic air pollution). This is something we have experienced from time to time in the past 35 years since Kilauea has (most recently) been active. Hawaii’s prevalent trade winds are currently blowing the vog west and out to sea. However, every now and then the trade winds do subside. When that happens, southerly (Kona) winds can blow the vog up to Maui. The sky will appear hazy and we have the most amazing sunsets, but most people will hardly notice. If you have asthma, you will want to take precautions.
Should you be avoiding Big Island?
It depends. Yes, you should absolutely avoid the eastern-most corner (the Puna district of Big Island) as local residents are dealing with their own trauma. However, many other parts of Big Island are absolutely safe. In fact, I just read that the annual Iron Man Tournament is slated to go ahead next month (it takes place on the West coast of Big Island). Here’s another graphic I found on Facebook.