Puna district on Hawaii island gets hail and waterspout

Puna district on Hawaii island gets hail and waterspout

More sweater and socks weather is in store for the Hawaiian islands this weekend and next.

”This weekend’s going to be rather clear, with clouds and isolated showers in windward areas,” National Weather Service forecaster Will Ahue said today.

Temperatures will get down into the 50s in places like Wahiawa, and in the 60s elsewhere. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport hit 60 degrees today.

“Another system early next week will mix up the air mass a little bit,” Ahue said. “Behind that air mass will be cold weather but not as cold as this week.”

Puna got a rare treat of hail and a waterspout today.

“We’ve only seen hail twice in the last couple of decades,” said Harry Durgin, who is a professional photographer and happens to be the administrator for the Facebook group called Puna Weather, made up of meteorologists, climate science professors as well as members of the local community.

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And he happens to be situated in Pahoa and caught the hailstorm on video and took a photo of the largest hailstone he could find, which was three-fourths of an inch.

“We had a small, but intense thunderstorm, first over Ainaloa then it moved over Pahoa,” he said. The hail began at 2:20 p.m. and lasted 12 minutes.

He estimated the average size was about three-eighths of an inch. Volcano saw half-inch hailstones on Thursday, he said.

Durgin, an area resident for 15 years, has been doing the weather for about six years, with a weather forecast each day.

“We don’t generally get hail,” he said. “We generally have a subtropical ridge over us and it keeps the convection low and limits thunderstorm potential.”

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“We had cold air at the surface and the upper surface and warm water (because we have tropical waters off the coast),” he added.

He said there was no damage reported.

Despite the relatively small size, “three-quarters of an inch is still pretty cool,” he said.

An eyewitness to the waterspout was Chris Carroll, who was on the coast driving home from work when he spotted the spout off Hawaiian Beaches. He estimates it was about a mile out.

“Seen it and had to stop, really cool in person,” he messaged the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Carroll stopped and zoomed in as far as he could with his iPhone and shot a video at 3:41 p.m.

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Ahue said a waterspout is simply a tornado over water.

And the waterspout off Hawaiian Beaches had to have had three ingredients: Instability or an unstable air mass, moisture and some type of forcing mechanism.

Ahue said Hawaii normally has two of the three ingredients, but not all three.

He concurred with amateur weatherman Durgin’s explanation.

The cold air mass behind the system that came on Wednesday “provided enough instability for these pop-up thunderstorms that fired off over the Puna District,” Ahue said.

That brought with it the hail in Pahoa.

“The atmosphere is not very conducive to have a lot of these very strong thunderstorms that produce these updrafts to produce hail,” Ahue said.

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