Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, June 8, 2001

Lee Cataluna
Big rain small stuff for Kaua'i

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist

I'm not saying one is better. They're just different.

On Tuesday afternoon, Honolulu just about came to a standstill as a summer thunderstorm blew over the Ko'olau mountains and drenched the city. All over town, people pressed their noses to the window panes to watch in awe as the lightning flashed and the water came down.

I couldn't help thinking, "Wow. That's so Honolulu."

On Kaua'i, a sudden heavy downpour like that might not even merit comment. It's only after hours of steady pelting rain, when the puddles are turning into ponds, the ponds are turning into lakes, and the ducks in your yard aren't your ducks, but the ducks from the guy two miles up the hill, that someone might glance out the window and casually say, "Big rain, yeah?"

It takes a lot to get more emphatic statements than that. If a guy in Lihu'e says, "Ho! Some BEEG da rain!" you know it's really serious and you should take precautions.

In Honolulu, there's almost a sense of panic when the weather knocks out power to a community. On Kaua'i, power outages are so common that many families never bother setting the clocks on their microwaves and VCRs. Better to leave it blinking 12:00 than have to reset over and over.

In Honolulu, drivers slow to a crawl on the freeway whenever the rain is just above a drizzle, especially H-1 'ewa-bound near the Bishop Museum, a place that has that just-above-drizzle rain a lot.

On Kaua'i, it takes near gale-force winds, sheets of water pelting the windshield and roads flooded at least to the hood of the car before anyone starts to tap the brakes — even at night, even on an unlit roadway.

On Kaua'i, you learn to cope with big rain. When a storm comes, you know to cook dinner and take a bath fast before the power goes out. You learn to cook rice on a kerosene stove. You keep all your shoes, even your nice ones, outside in the garage so they can dry.

You don't just have a mat to wipe your feet by the door, you have a bunch of towels. You have a regular spot for the dog, the cat, maybe even the chickens in your laundry room for when things get really soggy outside. You know exactly which route to take home to avoid all the really deep mud puddles.

I don't mean to make light of Tuesday's downpour in Honolulu. Conditions were dangerous out there.

Streets were flooded, neighborhoods were without power and traffic was messed up for hours. Folks in Manoa and Nu'uanu might be used to the rain, but the rest of the city is still impressed and unnerved by a storm.

But while a similar "big rain" probably wouldn't garner much attention on Kaua'i, it wasn't too long ago that a new traffic light in Lihu'e was the the talk of the town.

It's just different.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Her e-mail address is lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.