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Rain, Hail, even a Tornado!

Hawaii seems to be stuck in a rainy weather pattern and has seen more than its fair share of flood warnings issued over the past couple of weeks.  Unfortunately, it has not been an even amount of rain falling throughout the state.  Parts of the Big Island, for example, is still suffering a severe drought going back to 2011.

My sister forwarded me the following pic, which I just HAD to post here to share with my readers!  An awesome sight of multiple waterfalls in the Koolau mountains on Oahu.  The most I had ever personally seen might equal half of what this pic has captured.


According to the latest news, there was also a tornado that did property damage on the windward side of Oahu, in the Lanikai, Enchanted Lake subdivision area.  The tornado was rated a EF0 with winds of 75 mph, but still managed to do some severe damage to a few homes.

And, an accompaniment that only car body shops could love,  this weather event came with golf ball size hail!  While there have been over 40 tornadoes in Hawaii since 1950, hail is a very rare occurrence, especially hail of this size.  As a matter of fact, the weather service says to find hail this size, you’d have to go back to pre-1950’s.  Actually, hail falling in the state is more common than we think, but the majority of that hail falls over the ocean.

Go to: for a video covering the damage.

Another video of damage and reactions.

Meanwhile, on Kauai, the Napali Coast State Wilderness park is closed following rain-related damage to the Kalalau trail.

West Maui also got hit with golf ball size hail on Friday morning!   Add to that the torrential rains and heavy lightning storms and its been a pretty miserable week.   The good news is that the worse residual effect were around 70 people losing phone service and 400 losing power around the Hana area.  Roads were closed, debris blocking many others, and just a lot of cleanup ahead for the weekend.

Maui’s Polipoli Spring State Park and Waianapanapa State Park were also closed due to severe weather.

Big Island Brewhaus

Last year, I wrote a couple of posts on the brewers, distillers, wineries, and meaderies in Hawaii.  As usual, I do my best to keep my information current and up to date and while I may occasionally overlook something, I will always be quick to admit so and update my information as I become aware.

Big Island Brewhaus…Waimea

Located in Waimea, this micro-brewery is owned and operated by Master-brewer Thomas Kern and his wife, Jayne.  Thomas Kern won over 30 national and international awards in just 3 years while brew-master with the Maui Brewing Co.

The brewpub business began with the purchase of Tako Taco Tacqueria, a successful Mexican restaurant in the heart of Waimea. Operating the restaurant since August 16, 2008, they currently bill the Big Island Brewhaus as Hawaii’s highest brewery at 2,812′.  Live Beer, Live Food, & Live Music- is the venue that they provide.

Since late 2010, they have been brewing their own beers, served in their Bamboo Beer Garden.  Currently, there are 13 different beers brewed by Mr. Kern and available by sampler sized 3.5 oz, half-pint and pint sizes.  You can even order their 5-beer sampler for just $6.00.  If you want to get some to go, they come in quart, half-gallon and a 2-liter growler…with the purchase of the containers.

Big Island Brewhaus is more than just a micro-brewer

In addition to their beers, you’ll also find a selection of southwestern fare, after all the original restaurant was Tako Taco, which is still in operation…with an island twist, such as their fish burrito.  They use island grown beef and produce.  They also make their own all-natural sodas, including Big Island Rootbeer and Lilikoi Cream soda.

They also have live entertainment with Open Mic nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays and live entertainment on Friday nights.  So, if you happen to be in the Kona area, find your way up to Tako Tacos and enjoy a relaxed evening out with the Kerns at the Big Island Brewhaus.

Significant Snow Hits the Big Island

Snow Blankets Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa

Over the last 48-hours, snow has blanketed the slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  The road up to the Mauna Kea Visitors Center was closed for part of this weekend due to the snow.

Here is a slide-show capturing the snow from both the mountain tops, as well as from Hilo:

Snow covered Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea

Winter Waves Taking Their Toll

High Wind and Surf Advisories

While most of the country, with the exception of Alaska, is experiencing a fairly mild winter, Hawaii seems to be seeing a lot of wind and rain, as well as a lot of rough ocean conditions this year.  Note the number of high wind and surf advisories that the NOAA has issued this year.  It seems that not a week has gone by that someone has not drowned or been swept out to sea and required rescue.

Visitors and residents alike should be cautious of surf conditions and use caution, especially when in unfamiliar areas.   Tourists are simply not aware that Hawaii’s beautiful beaches can be deceiving.  Respect must be given to the ocean and the power of waves and current or the consequences can be severe.

Safety Tips

Locals grow up in and around the ocean and constant reminders to watch out.  Here are a few pointers that newbies should be mindful of when venturing near or in the waters of Hawaii (or anywhere else, for that matter):

  • NEVER turn your back to the ocean!  You can’t take protective measures if you don’t see the wave that’s about to hit you.
  • IF you are going to be hit by a large wave, your best bet is to lay flat and grab hold!  Running when a wave hits is about the worse thing that you can do as you have no way to stop being knocked down and sucked out.  Lying down maximizes the surface area between you and solid ground.
  • This tip has no scientific support nor is it 100% accurate, but we were always told when you’re hit by one large wave, be especially cautious because they often come in SETS OF THREE!  In other words, don’t let you guard down too soon.
  • If you are caught in a rip-tide or out-going current while snorkeling or swimming, DO NOT PANIC!  Do NOT try to fight the current and swim back to shore!  Go with the flow until you feel it lessen…swim diagonally back towards shore.

When I was in my teens, a couple friends and I had gone snorkeling just north of Diamond Head and while I was intent on following a school of fish, I got caught in an outgoing flow, running about 3-4 mph.  That doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, you can’t swim against that!

For about 5 seconds…I tried to do just that, as I panicked!  (Yes, I violated two of my own rules stated above.)  Then, I just relaxed and floated as I watched the bottom slide by below me (that’s when I estimated the speed)…and by now, I was in water over 40′ deep.  I looked up, sized up my situation, then cut a course of about a 30 degree angle toward shore.   Once I was clear of the out-going flow, progress became much easier and I headed straight for shore, but I still ended up about 50 yards down from where I started my swim in.

I can tell you that I was one tired puppy when I finally dragged myself up on the rocks and sprawled out exhausted!  However, the alternatives were that I would a) continued to fight the current and probably drowned from exhaustion, or b) been swept out and hopefully come near shore somewhere around Sand Island (about 5 miles down the coast for those not familiar with Oahu), thru some very shark infested waters I might add.

Likewise, there have been a few times where I have thrown myself down to get a hold when I’ve been caught unawares by a rogue wave.  More than a few locals have drowned while picking opihi (limpets) and got caught while there heads were down and picking.  So, not only was I brought up hearing these warnings, I have been the beneficiary of having heeded them.

Let Common Sense Rule!

I wish each and everyone a safe and happy outing each time you venture to the coast, whether you’re swimming, snorkeling, fishing or whatever your pursuit of happiness involves.  I hope you never have need of any of these warnings, but should the need arise, I hope that they will serve you well, as they have me.  Remember, your first course of action is to observe the ocean and allow your common sense to dictate whether its safe to walk out, swim out, or simply stay away.

Gung Hee Fat Choy!

Happy Chinese New Year!

January 23rd, marks the start of the Chinese New Year, with 2012 being the Year of the Dragon, more specifically, the Year of the Water Dragon.  Traditionally celebrations are held for fifteen days, this year ending on February 6.  Having said that, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated over differing periods in different areas.  For example, San Francisco’s Chinatown Lunar New Year activities started January 12 and pack over a dozen events into a six week schedule running all the way through the middle of February.

On Oahu the City & County of Honolulu holds Chinatown events started January 6th and ends January 28th, with everything from festivals to parades to the Narcissus Queen Pageant.  The Hilo Chinese New Year Festival will be held Saturday, February 11th, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., at the Kalakaua Park since Hilo does not have a “Chinatown” district.  On Saturday, January 28th, the Maui Mall is throwing its 13th annual Chinese New Year party with lion dancing, crafts and a fried rice cooking contest and food booths.

Traditions and Superstitions

Chinese believe that the entire house should be cleaned before New Year’s Day and on New Year’s Day, all brooms, mops, dust pans, and such should be put away.  There is even a specific method to the house cleaning that is traditionally followed.  Sweeping starts at the front door and everything is swept to the middle of the living-room floor, then swept into the corners…and left untouched or removed until the 5th day.

Chinese superstition believe that sweeping this debris out over the front door threshold is sweeping away a member of the family and also sweeping away any family good fortune.  That is why it must be swept “inward”, starting at the front door, then “carried out” via the backdoor, to avoid bad luck.

Chinese New Year is usually brought in by the use of fireworks!  It is their way of sending out the old year and welcoming the new.  All windows and doors should be left opened at midnight, New Year’s Eve, to allow the old year to leave.

Other Chinese New Year customs and superstitions include:

  • All debts must be paid off to start the new year,
  • Nothing is lent to anyone on New Year’s Day,
  • Foul language should not be used,
  • Ghost stories or mentioning of death or the dying should NEVER be mentioned,
  • Talk of the past year should be avoided and all focus on the coming year,
  • If you cry on New Year’s Day, you will cry all year…so even children are not spanked on New Year’s Day, but rather tolerated for the day,
  • You do not wash your hair on New Year’s Day because you would be washing out any good luck for the year,
  • Red is the favored color of dressing for the day (Chinese have always believed red to be a good luck color),
  • It is considered bad luck to greet anyone in their bedroom, so even the sick should dress and sit in the living-room,
  • Knives and scissors are not to be used on New Year’s Day to avoid “cutting off” any good luck.

While many of these superstitions and customs are not observed  today, (note all the Chinese restaurants that are open and using their knives), like many traditions, there are those who still do observe many of these practices.  One of my favorite New Year’s traditions is the “red money envelope” where money is placed and given to children (and the unmarried) as a token of good luck.  The Chinese refer to this as “lai see”.


Here is the remaining Chinese New Year activities scheduled for Honolulu’s Chinatown:

Saturday, January 14
Open to the Public, Free
8:00 am to 10:00 pm
Chinatown Merchants Association presents Lunar New Year Festival

In Chinatown and on the streets of Maunakea St., Pauahi St. and Smith St. This street fair will have four (4) main stages with various entertainment throughout the day and into the night. Live bands singing and playing all types of music for all ages, ethnic dancing, martial arts, lion and dragon dancing, local musical groups and any type of acts possible to “wow” the crowd. Vendors will be plentiful. Arts and crafts and food vendors selling any type of ethnic cuisine from all over the world. Vendors for children of all ages, bouncers, picture photos of ancient style China clothing, etc. A street fair that is great for tourist too!


Saturday, January 14
Open to the Public, Free
3:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Chinatown Merchants Association presents Night In Chinatown Parade

On and along Hotel St. starting from our State Capital to River St. This parade consist of eighty plus (80+) marching units. No restrictions on type of marching units and their performances. Parade participants include Queens and her courts, cultural organizations, kung fu martial artist, lion and dragon dance associations and a 150 foot dragon to end the parade.


Friday and Saturday, January 20 & 21
Open to the Public, Free
10:00 am to 10:00 pm
United Chinese Coalition presents Chinese New Year Festival

Chinatown Cultural Plaza. At this two-day event, food vendors provide a variety of Chinese and other Asian cuisine favorites. Exhibits and entertainment include feng shui presentations, arts and crafts vendors, martial arts demonstrations, Chinese fortune readings and Chinese dancing and singing. LAST CHANCE to get your Chinese New Year foods and gifts.


Na Akua Hawaii – Hawaiian Gods


Hawaiians are a deeply spiritual people. Their inspiration and mana (spiritual power, energy, and life force) come from the powerful forces of their natural world. This world was immense. It stretched beyond the eight main Hawaiian Islands and encompassed Kahiki, Aotearoa, Te Pito o te Henua and everything in-between. It spanned the breadth of earth’s largest ocean and included a sea of stars in an endless night sky. Based on the enormity of their world, it is no wonder why ancient Hawaiians were polytheistic.

There are over 400,000 different gods recognized in Hawaiian culture. These include the principal deities, demi-gods, ‘aumakua (ancestral gods), and many lesser akua (gods). Each had their own realm of influence over some aspect of Hawaiian society. In this pantheon of akua were those who had greater kuleana (responsibilities) such as war or politics and others with less important roles. Not all akua Hawai’i (Hawaiian gods) were worshiped by each individual. Gods varied from place to place and from island to island. Gods also differed according to a person’s area of expertise, for example, a canoe maker wouldn’t necessarily pray to the gods of hula (dance) for support and vice versa. There were, however, some deities and spiritual beliefs that all Hawaiians adhered to regardless of status or class.

Listed below are the major gods collectively known as Ka Ha (lit. the four) that influenced every aspect of the Hawaiian world. They were equally revered amongst all islands in ancient times and are recognized throughout Polynesia as some of the most powerful gods in Oceania.

In this list, readers will find the common name for each god, along with their sphere of influence. Also included are some of the main kinolau belonging to each akua. Kinolau literally means “many forms.” They are the physical manifestations of an akua and even though they often take the form of a plant or animal, kinolau are not limited to only flora and fauna.

Common name:


Other names:

Kunuiakea, Kuka’ilimoku.

God of:

War, politics, sorcery, farming, fishing, bird catching, canoe building.


‘Ie’ie, ‘Ohi’a Lehua, Loulu, ‘Ulu, Niu, Pueo, Mano, ‘Io, Niuhi, ‘Ilio, Koa.

Common name:


Other names:

Lonoikaouali’i, Lonoikamakahiki.

God of:

Peace, fertility, agriculture, prosperity, sports, healing (medicinal herbs), love making.


Pua’a, Kukui, Hapu’u, Ipu, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, ‘Ama’ama, ‘Ohua Palemo, thunder, clouds, lightning, rain.

Common name:


Other names:


God of:

Freshwater, life, procreation, canoe builders, increase of ‘o’opu, healing.


Wai, ‘Ohe, Ko, La’i, Wauke, Kalo, forests, sunrise.

Common name:


Other names:


God of:

Deep ocean, ocean winds, fishing, voyaging, healing.


Ocean, Mai’a, Muhe’e, He’e, ocean winds, sunset.

Noah Keola Ryan is a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and educator on the island of O’ahu. He is a lecturer of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii and owner of North Shore EcoTours and Pa’ala’a Cultural Farms. For more information about Keola’s educational tours and workshops visit

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The 2012 Humpback Whale Sanctuary Ocean Count

The Annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count

And, once again, they are looking for volunteers to help with this year’s count.  This effort has been an on-going project since 2002 and helps in determining the overall health of the humpback whale population in the Pacific.  The annual sanctuary ocean count has shown a an annual increase in population of approximately 7%.

If you’re going to be in Hawaii at the end of January, February, or March, you can participate in this fun and enlightening sanctuary ocean count by volunteering a few hours of your time.

The 2012 Sanctuary Ocean Count will be held on Saturday January 28th, February 25th, and March 31th.

The sanctuary, which is managed by NOAA, protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaiian waters.  The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was created by Congress in 1992, to protect humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaii.  The sanctuary, which lies within the shallow (less than 600 feet), warm waters surrounding the main Hawaiian islands, constitutes one of  the world’s most important humpback whale habitats.  The Sanctuary Education Center is located in Kihei, Maui, and is open Monday thru Friday, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm,  if you happen to be in the area.

Maui Office and Sanctuary Education Center
726 South Kihei Road
Kihei, Hawai`i 96753
Phone: (808) 879-2818 or toll free 1-800-831-4888

Online registration to participate in this year’s Sanctuary Ocean Count is now available for the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, and Kauai.

Make your own slideshow at Animoto.

Sanctuary Ocean Count Volunteers Wanted!

Volunteers count the number of humpback whales which can be seen around the islands over a four-hour period and record their behavior. This year, the Sanctuary Ocean Count will be conducted at over 60 different shore sites around the islands of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, and O‘ahu (see online site descriptions). Counts will be conducted the last Saturday of January, February, and March. Select the date(s) you would like to take part in and register today!

Online registration for this year’s Sanctuary Ocean Count is now available for the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, and Kauai.

Space at each site is limited and online registration will not be possible for those sites that have 0 spaces available. To register for Pyramid Rock or Mokapu Point on Oahu, please E-mail them at

You can also support the Sanctuary Ocean Count by purchasing a 2012 t-shirt from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

This year’s design is the work of Stephanie Chang DESIGN INK.

t-shirt from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Proceeds benefit the Sanctuary Ocean Count project.t-shirt from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Proceeds benefit the Sanctuary Ocean Coun

Order Yours Today!


Pacific Whale Foundation

You may have noticed that Maui is not listed as a participating location for the annual sanctuary ocean count.  That’s because a whale count on Maui is conducted independently by the Pacific Whale Foundation each February.  While they do not sign up volunteers for their whale counting, they do offer volunteer opportunities for those on vacation who would like to help out with protecting the fragile eco-system on Maui.

“Year of the Dragon” Coffee

Welcome the new year in with some great Hawaiian coffee!   Coffees of Hawaii is having a new year sale on their special “Year of the Dragon” coffee!

Coffees of Hawaii’s “Year of the Dragon” New Year’s Coffee – Limited Edition – only available January 1st – 31st – plus 10% off & Free Shipping with code DRAGON12. Celebrate 2012 with this custom roasted 100% Hawaiian coffee while supplies last!

And, if you want to order one of their other coffees from Hawaii, you can get 10% off AND FREE Shipping thru March 31st, by using Promo Code: NEWYEAR10.

And, for member serving in the military, Welcome U.S. Service Men & Women – Coffees of Hawaii ships to all APO & FPO addresses FREE OF CHARGE plus SAVE 10% on all orders with promo code MILITARYSHIP – thanks for serving our country!

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