High winds, cooler temps of late

  • A palm tree blows in the wind Monday in Kailua-Kona. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — West Hawaii residents threw an extra blanket on their beds Monday morning as winter settled in, thanks to a cold front passing through the state.

The low Monday morning at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole was 67 degrees, however, higher elevations woke up to a much cooler morning. West Hawaii Today readers on social media reported temperatures of 56 degrees in Holualoa, 54 degrees in Waimea and 60 degrees in Waikoloa.

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Lora Robertson, who lives at the 5,600-foot elevation of Kaloko Mauka on Hualalai, woke up to a Monday morning temperature of 45 degrees.

“Thank God for our fireplace and my wood-chopping honey,” said Robertson.

In the Saddle between Mauna Loa and Maunakea, Mike Donnelly, Pohakuloa Training Area public affairs officer, said it was a chilly 33 degrees Monday morning as Marines and soldiers arrived for training, wearing their cold weather gear.

Derek Wroe, a Honolulu-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the islands’ weather is currently being influenced by a deep low-pressure system centered several hundred miles northeast of the state and a surface ridge several hundred miles to the northwest.

The result, he explained, is breezy to gusty conditions with Kona winds flowing from the north-northeast. Rainfall has been, and will remain, scant due to the rather dry air mass over the state. The conditions prompted a wind advisory for some Big Island areas and a wind warning for the summits through early this morning.

On Monday, Keahole Point in North Kona saw sustained winds of 30 mph with gusts topping 40 mph.

Even though daily high temperatures have been struggling to reach 80 degrees in most West Hawaii locations, this is only a couple of degrees below normal for late January in Kona, Wroe said.

“It feels cold but the temperatures are not much lower than normal,” said Wroe. “Between the dryness in the air and the wind, it affects your comfort level.”

Wroe said winds should back off today to 20-25 mph with normal trade winds returning by Thursday. The dew point should be rising today, bringing back that warm Hawaiian feeling.

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Meanwhile, be happy you live Hawaii.

The high tonight in Chicago is expected to reach a balmy 18 degrees below zero and in International Falls, Minnesota, people will need 10 extra blankets as temperatures are expected to be around 29 degrees below zero. Brrr.

  1. Colin12345 January 29, 2019 8:52 am

    “Kona winds”???? No, wrong. “Kona” (or just “kona”) winds are winds are blowing from the WEST, onto the western flanks of the islands, or the “kona” sides of our islands here in the State/Kingdom of Hawaii. NOT winds from the North or Northeast as this article states. All the major islands once called their west or SW flank regions “Kona”. You can see it lightly inscribed on old maps of Oahu (it embraced Waikiki, for example). Probably the Big Island’s Kona region had such little population that the name remained in use here on this island, while long submerged by political shenanigans on the other islands, or whatever.

    I can’t help but share my speculation that “kona” was a linguistic “corruption” of “Tonga.” Tonga lays to our southwest, and was the source of much of the early population immigration to these islands. Voyaging back and forth to/from Tonga is part of the oral history of these islands. Thus, it’s only natural that the peoples of these islands would refer to winds coming from that direction as “Tonga winds.” Throughout Polynesia, the sound of the letter “T” and the sound clumsily captured by English letters “ng” (as in Tonga) for a strong “n” sound still predominate. When the Christian missionaries condensed the Hawaiian language sounds for literary schooling, those sounds were omitted in favor of “K” and plain old “n” for whatever reason. The Maori word for man is “Tangata,” versus the Hawaiian version being “Kanaka.” See what I mean? T vs. K, ng vs. n. So, I believe that over time, “Tonga winds” became “Kona winds.” Winds from Tonga. From Tangata to Kanaka, by air over the sea.


    1. LimeyinHi January 29, 2019 9:36 am

      Kona winds blow from the South, as in a Kona storm. These happen before the passage of a strong low front. We have not had a ‘good’ Kona storm for many years. The strongest one I experienced was in January 1980, three days of 30 plus knot southerly winds. Three houses swept off of Alii drive and extensive flood damage up mauka. The formerly Kona Surf Hotel (now Sheraton) had rooms damaged by the ocean on the third floor, and their swimming pool was full of rocks!


      1. Colin12345 January 29, 2019 10:22 am

        Winds from the West or SW, and South but rarely that as you mention, are the kona winds, for reasons I mention. Born and raised here in Hawaii, those are the directions people call kona winds. A south wind, for us here in central North Kona, would be a wind coming over Kauna Point, the southernmost point you can see from here (which some people mistakenly think is South Point, which actually is SSE of Kauna Point when viewed from here). A true south wind would have only a little more effect than the current north wind we have this week. I’m confident the 1980 wind event you speak of was a SW wind. It’s a meaningful distinction if we are trying to describe or exemplify “kona winds.”


        1. LimeyinHi January 30, 2019 9:38 am

          Kona winds occur on the other islands as well, on Oahu they are from the South and on Maui too. If you look on a website like Windy.c–.(you know the rest but they won’t let us post websites on this) you will see how the true wind bends to accommodate our tall mountains. A strong frontal passage is always preceded by South winds that switch to Northeast when the front passes. I was not born on this island but I have sailed small boats around most of this planet and I have windsurfed in Hawaii since it was first invented. I am aware of the wind.


    2. Rock108 January 29, 2019 3:33 pm

      Fascinating idea….I noticed in ancient Hawaiian maps that Kealakekua was titled “Tearatetooa”. I’ve also noticed Tongan names like “Hungalu” supposed to be pronounced “Hunaalu” or “Ngaluafe” to be pronounced “Naaluafe”, almost as if the g is silent. Very interesting, so “Kona” is really “Tonga”, wow! Nice insight, there.


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