Kona, the first tropical paradise

Rough Northern Pacific ocean is finally changed to the glassy tropical waters
Rough Northern Pacific ocean is finally changed to the glassy tropical waters

The flight from Anchorage to Kona on one of the worlds premier executive jets should not, really, take 8.5 hours. And it would not, had we not tooled along at 250 knots, descending to 500 feet over the water every 40 minutes or so. So while the instruments on board are measuring the outside air for some 80 different constituents every 1 to 70 seconds, we are observing the seas.

This flight was all over the rough seas. I have not seen the rough seas extend pretty much all the way from Alaska almost to Hawaii before. Usually you see the rough waters above the jet stream; this time the seas were rough above it, and below it as well. The skies were covered by clouds, more often than not at multiple levels, and the sun was nowhere to be seen. Only really close to Hawaii did we finally see the usual “tropical” blue mirror-like waters. North of that, the ocean was gray and inhospitable looking.

We worked in Kona for a day and moved on, flying South to Rarotonga. On departure, as well as right before landing on the arrival, we saw interesting features on the surface of the ocean that appear to be some kind of algal blooms. Difficult to scale from the air with nothing to compare to, they seem to extend for 0.5 to 5 miles and be 20-200 m wide.

Algae bloom off the coast of Hawaii
Algae bloom off the coast of Hawaii

Interestingly, as we flew South of Hawaii through the ITCZ, the ocean turned stormy again, and the glassy blue was gone. The ITCZ was uneventful with only scattered clouds and a couple of disparate cirrus decks and no strong convection anywhere withing eyesight. Nonetheless, choppy seas, with white caps that seem to stay foamy for quite a bit longer in the warm tropics than they do in the North or South, were rolling below at every one of the eight 500 foot low passes that we performed on the way to Cook Islands.

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