When Hawaii residents say, “It’s cold!”, we tend to take a lot of, well, heat. It happens every year (so far), and what has always been an almost gleeful annual bundle-up is now something of a national punchline. We don’t mind. We’re not complaining. The weather is perfect. Bring on the memes! It’s chilly in Hawaii!
As much of North America is freezing over in subzero and life-threatening temperatures from a “once in a generation” winter and the polar vortex, we’re out here wearing socks with slippers and fleece hoodies. In cold weather climes, the thought that one might get cold in Hawaii is patently preposterous. We don’t need survival gear to go to work or pick up the kids or check the mail.
This is why images of snow-capped Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on Hawaii Island are numberless and shared virally on social media. The same goes for Haleakala on Maui. “Snow in Hawaii? That’s crazy!” It isn’t. Hawaii contains ten of the planet’s fourteen climate zones. But Hawaii isn’t on the NOAA website Climate Regions page. We’re fine with it. We have lots of scientists here.
The truth is that the weather in Hawaii is in the “Goldilocks” category. It’s just right. In fact, it’s boring. Honolulu’s average yearly high temperature is 84 degrees. The yearly low average? 70 degrees. The overall average temperature is 77 degrees. This is a big part of what has made Hawaii the world’s most iconic tropical vacation destination for generations.
We blog about Hawaii
because we love Hawaii.
It is also what makes weather events that take temperatures below 70 a novelty, a topic of casual conversation in elevators and at the office water cooler. We here in Hawaii know that no one is going to fall victim to exposure to the elements unless they do something exceedingly stupid. But we do relish the opportunity to put on stylish jackets and raincoats on the rare but predictable occasions that warrant them.
At his recent Blaisdell Concert Hall performance, internationally beloved essayist and speaker David Sedaris noted, off-the-cuff, that his handlers had apologized for the chilly weather and that he’d seen people wearing ski jackets in Hawaii. He lives in England. He was astonished.
Newspersons wryly tell folks to “get out that extra blanket” and broadcast meteorologists break down weather patterns with familiar graphics and euphemisms. Hawaii residents watch, enrapt, wanting to know how cold it’s going to get. We also know that it won’t last more than a government shutdown.
But when the wind blows from the north, whipping brief but battering rains over the Hawaiian Islands, we love it. We happily dance the “Kama’aina Quickstep” stepping over puddles, slouched into our jumpers and squinting into the wind. We also hope our friends and family in low-lying areas aren’t flooded out.
We know that these cooler temperatures will blow past and that balmy days of “Kona weather” are not far off. We’ll decry the heat and long for the trade-winds that are certain to abandon us in the months to come before the next Hawaii cold snap.
It comes off as cute to the rest of the non-paradise world, our acclimatization to Hawaii’s perfect weather. We’ve been playfully derided for a long time for our affinity for sunny skies and t-shirt temperatures. It’s fine. We don’t have to flee the cold. Come for the warm. Stay for the aloha.