Red Storm Rising -- 9/1/03

Red storm

Date: September 1, 2003
Time: 0515--0845
Spot(s): DHLH
Conditions: Medium sideshores and typical crowd
Swell: Fair south with a firm tradewind wrap
Surf: 1-3+' Haw'n

Words: Hurricane Jimena, Hawaii's first weather system this season to pose an imminent threat to the islands, was about to clip the Big Island early Monday. However, the slightly slanted values of most surfers in Hawaii hoped that this potentially devastating storm would provide some residual swell action.

The pre-dawn patrol yielded nothing, as there seemed to be only a residual south mixing with the typical tradewind mush. Regardless, it was my time to surf, so I was out there.

As sunrise approached, the tendril of clouds from Jimena was plainly visible across the horizon. There was no doubt that the storm had arrived south of us, but would it throw some swell at us was another entirely different matter. As the sun came up, the sky turned a blood-red, a sign of changing weather.

Noticeably, the swell seemed to pick up with a few overhead sets. It was messy, but at least we had a lot of water moving.

It was hard finding the right spot (especially with the shortboard), and you had to be more lucky than good. But the challenge is part of the stoke.

I had a couple of decent turns, but it was hit and miss for the most part. The most memorable wave was actually a wipeout. Took off late on an overhead set. Made it to the bottom, but skittered out of control. The last thing I saw was a rare tube pitch over me as I fell on my back in the pit. Auwe!

At exactly 8:25, the wind kicked into overdrive as a front (probably part of the hurricane) blasted through. It was time to go in.

Found out later that the storm had dissipated into a tropical storm (winds less than 75 mph) as it kept to its westward track running south of the islands. Glad that we didn't have to deal with another hurricane like Iwa and Iniki. But at the same time, surfers (on Oahu, anyway) were for the most part disappointed.

Red storm was rising. But was only small kine.

Aloha from Paradise,