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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 21, 2003

Coast Guard remoors buoy off Big Island

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Coast Guard has taken another step to assure Hawai'i gets the earliest possible warnings when hurricanes approach.

The Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu, replaced a $250,000 weather data collection buoy that broke free from its 18,000-foot mooring in June.

The cutter returned to Sand Island on Saturday, Coast Guard officials said.

The buoy is the southernmost of four weather collection buoys surrounding the Hawai'i. It is about 205 miles southeast of the Big Island, and would be the first to record data were a hurricane to approach, as most do, from the south.

The buoys are operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and used by the National Weather Service.

They collect information on wave and sea height, air and sea temperature, barometric pressure and wind speed and direction.

The data is beamed via satellite to the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. In addition to providing early warnings for hurricanes, the weather services uses the information to to forecast maritime conditions.

The other buoys are moored north of Kaua'i, south of Kaua'i, and south of O'ahu.

In preparation for this hurricane season, which runs June 1 to Nov. 30, the Kukui brought in one of the other buoys to be serviced on land in February, then returned it in June. The buoy tender delivered two NOAA technicians to a third buoy in March after the buoy's transmitter failed.

Kukui maintains aids to navigation throughout the Hawai'i and the Western Pacific Ocean.

Information collected by the NOAA can be found at www.noaa.gov.

Information about the Coast Guard and the Kukui can be found at www.uscg.mil.