A funnel cloud turned into a rare tornado yesterday afternoon, touching down and racing across a section of the Kapolei Golf Course. The tornado injured one person and caused minor property damage.
(photo from the Honolulu Advertiser)
Tornadoes are rare occurrences here in Hawaii. According to the Honolulu Advertiser article (link no longer works), “The state gets one to two tornadoes a year…. Yesterday’s was the 11th reported since 2000. The last occurred Dec. 13 on Kaua’i near Hanapepe, Ballard said. Before that, there was one on Lana’i in 2006.”
I have personally experienced two funnel clouds while living in Hawaii, but thankfully never a tornado.
My first experience occurred about 17 years ago while I was teaching in a special education resource room. My classroom had doors and glass windows on both sides of the room, which I usually left open during the day. Right before the funnel cloud came storming through my classroom, I was scolding some of my students about playing around in class. Just as I finished scolding them, a big gust of wind came racing through my classroom in a swirling motion. As the funnel cloud entered my room, the windows on that side all loudly slammed shut one after another. The papers on the students’ desks swirled up in the air in a circular fashion and then the gust of wind exited the other side with the windows on that side loudly slamming shut again one after another in a domino fashion. My kids were really spooked! They all sat there saying “whoa!” as their mouths hung open in disbelief. I was also pretty spooked. It was as if a ghost came storming through our classroom. I of course took advantage of the moment saying something about how this might have happened because they were not behaving. I can’t remember exactly what I said but whatever I said, it sure worked. They sat up like little soldiers and were the best behaved students for the rest of the day.
My second experience happened while I was driving home about 15 years ago. I saw this swirling red cloud of dust and dirt heading right towards me as I was driving. I was pretty freaked out since I had no where to go. The big swirling cloud of dust approached the front of my car and then passed right over my car. It was loud and pretty scary. It scratched up both the roof and the hood of my car.
I forgot all about both of these very spooky experiences until I saw this story yesterday on the news.