A Tropical Depression named Wali has been visiting our islands for the last 24 hours. Maui did not have much damage, with only 3 inches of rain. Oahu received 14 inches during the same 24 hours with flooding, property damage and many streams overflowing.
I'm sharing this weather update today in order to help illustrate the theme of this post. Staying safe while enjoying our magnificent and varied environment should be at top of mind for all, kama'aina and visitors alike. I always share safety tips with my guests, but since many folks on Maui don't get to chat over Hale Ho'okipa's breakfast table, I thought this post might be helpful.
From being a long time paddler, former distance swimmer and surfer, I know first hand how the wind can pick up,what storm surf can do, and how inexperience, over- confidence, and inattention can mess up a fun day.
We have lots of sayings here that are meant to get people's attention and save lives. We use them often.
"When in doubt, don't go out."
If you are on the beach and uncertain about conditions, do yourself a favor and stay out of the water. One clue to help with a decision, take a good look at who is in the water, if anyone. If it looks like Hawaii teens are tearing it up in rough surf, enjoy the show from dry land. Many of our beaches do not have life guards, find out if the beach you are on has a guard on duty, or not.
"If it's brown, stay out."
Mauka ( mountain) run off from heavy rains will often cause mud and debris to end up in the ocean. Pesticides and other yuk are hazardous to swim in, so do not go into brown ocean water. Sharks can be more of a threat in brown water as well.
"Turn around, don't drown."
This is an important message for people on foot and in vehicles referring to stream crossings. Rivers swell from heavy rains causing flash floods and slippery dangerous conditions. If it's raining hard, do not try to cross, wait it out, or turn around.
"Don't turn your back on the ocean."
We have a beautiful beach in the south called Makena Beach. It's a long stretch of paradise with a Shore Break. At first glance these waves may not look threatening, however when they roll up to the beach, they arch up and bam! break right on the sand. If someone has their back to the water, this could quickly become a tragic scenario. If a body boarder miscalculates when to pull out, it could be also be bad news. Even experienced body surfers get injured on shore breaks. Ask an Ocean Safety Life Guard about conditions.
"Stay on the Trails."
Large boulders can and do become dislodged on steep inclines especially if it's wet and muddy. Scrambling up rocks on steep hills is not a good idea. Stick to the foot paths and trails, they are there for a reason.
"Save the outing for another day if the weather is in question. "
It may make all the difference to wait for better weather.
Without knowing all the details due to this latest tropical disturbances, I can say that some snorkelers got into severe distress this morning while the storm was in our neighborhood. This could have been avoided by waiting for a better day.
"Hawaii is not Disneyland." ( My personal saying) ..Hawaii is, Mother Nature, raw, wild, beautiful, calm, challenging, and everything in between to be respected.
Respect the 'aina ( land) take care of ocean (kai), and please, always use common sense.
"Safety First" ( and last!)
With Warm Aloha,