Disturbing the Universe

David L Clements, science and science fiction

Back to Mauna Kea


I’m on an observing trip to Mauna Kea at the moment. This has been enlivened by the close passage of tropical storm Darby to the island not long after I arrived. All I saw of that was lots of rain and some wind, but my support scientist had a tree fall on his car which has rather cramped his style.

The side effect of the storm was to make observing conditions truly awful. We got no data last night at all, and tonight the telescope is observing targets for other programmes since the conditions are still too bad for what we want to do.

Nevertheless the skies looked pretty good when we got to the summit this evening.



Author: davecl

Astronomy, science, science fiction

5 thoughts on “Back to Mauna Kea

  1. “but my support scientist had a tree fall on his car”

    Would that be Iain?

    After Iselle everyone was worried here but Darby weakened and hit the island a little farther south and over relatively unpopulated areas, so we were lucky this time. Not sure if you know how devasting Iselle was despite it hitting the island as a tropical storm rather than a hurricane. Many of us were without power and water for several days.


    • Yes, that was Iain. Paradise Park and Pune seem to have had the worst of Darby.

      When was Iselle? I may have been around for that. I know I’ve been hit by a lot of storms on my most recent observing trips to Hawaii. I’m feeling cursed.

  2. Dave,

    Iselle hit the island on August 7th 2014. It caused an awful lot of damage in Puna, mainly due to invasive albizia trees falling and blocking roads. Some Puna residents were without power for weeks. It wasn’t a pleasant time (yes, I live in Puna!).


    Darby didn’t cause very much damage at all as it came ashore farther south then Iselle and affected mostly unpopulated areas. Iain was incredibly unlucky. Most of the problems from Darby were felt on Oahu due to flooding.


  3. I think I got out of Hilo just as Iselle was approaching looking at the dates. That was my double hurricane observing run as one was threatening the islands just as I arrived but turned out not to pass so close. I remember walking through downtown Hilo watching shops being bored up just before I flew out.

    • Yes, that was probably Hurricane Julio. In the end it tracked north of the islands. Iselle was a serious threat because as it approached the islands it became a category 4 hurricane, so caused a lot of concern. Fortunately it weakened significantly as it got close, but it was a scary time, and even as a tropical storm, it caused severe damage. I remember taking showers using a bucket as we had no power or running water!

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