07 August 2014

The morning before Iselle

As we brace today for the arrival of two very strong storm systems on the Hawaiian islands, the morning opening beautifully with bright sunshine and blue skies:

Weather forecasters are expecting hurricane Iselle to pass between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. If it does indeed pass between the two mountains, they aren't really sure what to expect from the winds and rains. The locals here in Kona tell me that historically the two mountains largely protect the west side of the Big Island from such storms. This will, to say the least, be interesting.

The strongest of the winds are expected to hit the islands of Oahu and Maui. As the hurricane passes over the Big Island, strong winds are expected to blow for 6-8 hours (it's a good thing I like strong winds) and the rains are expected to fall for 8-12 hours, leaving behind as much as 8 inches of rain. The majority of the rain will fall on the east side of the storm system.

This will be my first experience of a hurricane and, in fact, I will get to expect two of them in one week. The weather service believes this will be the first time two hurricanes will strike the same area in the same week.

I also experienced my first earthquake this morning as the Big Island felt a quake registering at 4.3. It did not last more than a few seconds and at first I thought the noise was a large truck in the back yard (it turns out there wasn't a truck at all). The floor of the house shook very briefly, more of a rattle than anything else. The quake left me asking, "What was that?" A few minutes later I saw on Twitter that it was a quake.

There were about 25 people at Mass this morning here at Immaculate Conception church in Holualoa. They seemed concerned, but no one seemed overly worried; cautious is probably the word that best fits the present demeanor of the locals. Many of them stayed after Mass to pray the rosary and to pray at litany.

Here in the rectory I have several days worth of food and water (and Dr Pepper). I am staying with the pastor and a transitional deacon, both of whom are locals. I'm sure if we need to head elsewhere, they'll bring me with them.

No matter what happens in the Hawaiian islands with two approaching hurricanes, it cannot compare with what is happening right now to Christians in Iraq. Please keep those of us on the islands in your prayers, but please do not forget our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq.

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