What A Hurricane Means In Hawaii

From June to November being in Hawaii makes you a target for natural disasters. We’ve been extremely lucky to avoid any major catastrophes in the last couple of decades, but we’ve still had our fair share of hurricanes, tropical storms, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.


Oahu narrowly avoided two hurricanes in the last month alone, one of them being a powerful Category-5 storm, and hurricane season isn’t over. However, preparing for a hurricane in Hawaii is a different experience; if you’re local, you know what I’m talking about. Here’s a unique take on what a hurricane watch means if you live in Hawaii.




Hawaii is normally one of the worst states in the country when it comes to traffic and during a storm, the roads are a mess. There are so many people crammed on to this little island that when everyone decides to jump on the road at the same time, you’re not going to be moving much. Combine that with the subpar drivers that the DMV let slide and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm. A fully charged phone and a snack is the only way to power through.


Crazy lines at Safeway, Costco, and Longs Drugs


When a storm is on its way to the islands state officials stress the importance of having two weeks worth of food and water. Hawaii relies on daily imports for most of its supplies and during a hurricane, all shipments are stopped. This leads to just about everyone storming local grocery stores. Good luck finding a parking space, let alone getting through the extensive lines in front of the cash registers.


Stocking up on gas at the last minute


The best deal on filling up your car’s gas tank is at Costco and the huge lot that they allocate for Members is full on an ordinary day. When a storm is coming it’s common practice to keep your vehicles at a full tank in case of an emergency, but we’re on Hawaiian time. You can count on people procrastinating all the way until the day before the storm is scheduled to hit to go and get gas. Of course, when they finally decide its time, they’ve got to go to Costco. I’m not sure what’s more absurd the line of shoppers inside of Costco or the line of cars outside, struggling to make there way into the actual gas lines.


Loading up on Spam, Vienna sausage, Water, Juice, and other snacks


A hurricane watch means that mom is bringing home all of the goodies. During a storm, there’s more food in the house than there is at any other time of the year. No complaints here. On the mainland Spam and Vienna sausage are probably legitimate last resort, doomsday survival food, but not in Hawaii! Time to fry up the Spam, make rice with Furikake, and eat dried Li Hing mango all day long.


Getting the flashlights, candles, and alcohol ready


Power outages are a pretty common occurrence in Hawaii. When there’s a bad storm with heavy wind and rain small portions of the island are often without power for a couple of hours. It’s really not a big deal, but during a hurricane power outages are all but guaranteed and no one ever knows how long they’ll last. Luckily, we’re always prepared with flashlights, extra batteries, and a ton of candles. Oh and beer. Lots and lots of beer. What else are you supposed to do without Internet or television?


Sitting around watching Hawaii News Now for updates


No matter what other activities are taking place at a local house during a storm, the news is always on in the background. There’s also always one aunty or uncle sitting way too close to the screen. The Hawaii News Now crew does a good job of keeping local residents informed on the situation and it’s always important to stay tuned to the latest developments. Whether it’s school closures, shelter locations, or Guy Hagi telling us that this is going to be the one that hits, the TV is on for as long as possible.


Bring out the ukuleles and guitars because we’re jammin’


This sounds like a stereotype of people from Hawaii, but this one’s actually quite accurate. While the hurricane approaches musical instruments come out and the singing begins. It’s a fun way for local people to get their minds off of the dangerous possibilities of a storm. Plus singing with friends and family is always a good time.



Playing cards with the family


Before and after the power goes out, there’s always a deck of cards being utilized during a hurricane watch. Trumps, Poker, and Pepito (Chinese Poker) are all local favorites. When alcohol is involved and money is on the line it’s guaranteed to get interesting and loud. Even the kids get in on the trumps action when the adults aren’t watching.



Eating all of the Hurricane food before it actually hits


Who could resist cracking open the hurricane food reserves and grinding down on all of those snacks? You start with the arare and salted nut mix, transition into the spam musubis your mom made, and before you know it you’ve eaten half of everything that’s supposed to keep you alive for the next two weeks. Seriously though, this probably an unhealthy local tradition for more than one reason.



Lie Hagi strikes again


Guy Hagi is Hawaii’s infamous weatherman and the center of countless memes. He’s charismatic, relatable, funny, and typically awful at predicting the weather. His uncanny ability to get the forecast wrong has given him the nickname ‘Lie Hagi’ because people have started to think that his predictions are a lie. The last thing that a hurricane watch means when you live in Hawaii is the storm turning away from the forecasted path towards the islands and most of the state getting out unscathed.



I want to reiterate that hurricanes and other natural disasters are no joke. Many people in Hawaii are heavily affected by the hurricanes that fortunately weaken or turn in a different direction before hitting the rest of the islands. While this piece is a lighthearted take on how things go during a hurricane watch in Hawaii, our thoughts and prayers go out to those individuals who have been affected by natural disasters in the past.



Photo Credit: Getty Images, Hawaii News Now, Star Advertiser, Thirsty For Tea, Reddit




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