Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Subtle Seasonal Change - What is Fall Like on Maui?

Seasonal change on Maui is very subtle, and the signs of change are easy to miss. Fall doesn’t scream with gorgeous red and orange leaves. Winter doesn’t bring flurries of snow.  Fall creeps "in on little cat feet” or maybe here, it approaches on little gecko toes.

What is fall like on Maui?
We are entering the season of dampness, coolness, and rain, the most obvious changes when I think of fall and winter on Maui.  Places like Kihei are still fairly dry and sunny all year round, but even Kihei is a bit cooler and moister.  I heard it even drizzled there today.  

Nights in Haiku, where I live, have become chillier, and accented with all night rain showers. Of course, Haiku is always going to be more cool and wet even during the summer just because of where it’s located.  
How cold is cold? Well, for those of us who don’t live at the top of Haleakala Crater, it’s not that bad… low 70s at night, maybe 60s or a little lower in a couple of months - which is funny for anyone from colder climes.  But we’re spoiled here. I recently saw a friend from Kihei wrapped up in a long scarf.

I’ve been trying to pay attention to what I consider are seasonal changes in autumn, and here a few things I’ve noticed. 

Sunset is occurring earlier, and is happening well before 6 pm. Sunsets on Maui do take place pretty quickly anyhow, since we’re so close to the equator.

The location of sunset is also a few degrees further south, although I’m not sure that’s the correct astronomical/geological terminology.  We’ve noticed that the sun used to set over Molokini Island in the summer and is now setting much closer to the island of Kahoolawe
Sunset taken in early October, closer to Molokini Island.

Sunset taken in later October 2011, moving towards Kahoolawe Island.




Kukui trees are flowering, as are mango trees. 

Flowering mango tree

We’re in the middle of persimmon season, which may continue into Thanksgiving.   Mango season is almost over.


Persimmons at the farmer's market

The kiawe trees in South Kihei have been shedding kiawe bean pods like crazy. David Bruce Leonard said they are edible but every pod I’ve opened has only had immature shriveled seeds. Update: Yes, kiawe is an amazing natural food!

Kiawe trees full of thorns and seed pods.
Kiawe seed pods on the ground.

Plumeria trees upcountry will soon go into dormancy (meaning no leaves and no flowers).

The first humpback whales were spotted a few weeks ago. They will be showing up in larger numbers from now through April.

After a busy summer, autumn means it's slow season on Maui, i.e., fewer tourists are on the island. High season for tourism corresponds to whale season, so we will also see many more tourists especially over the holidays and through the end of March.  

One strange thing… the traffic in the evening heading towards Paia always seems more backed up in November, with slow downs starting along the Sprecklesville wall.  The rest of the year, it’s usually pretty quick getting through Paia.

I'm sure there are many more subtle changes, but these are the only ones I've actually noticed.

P.S. Just remembered another major seasonal change - fall often brings a climax to hurricane season - historically, some of the nastiest hurricanes have  occurred in the fall! Luckily, after November, hurricane season should end until May or June.

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