It is fall and the waves are getting big, the surfers are stoked, and the dreaded Hawaiian winter is rapidly approaching. Weather predictions are particularly dire for this year where daily highs may only reach 78 Fahrenheit during the dark month of January.
Hawaiians are usually getting out their wool attire in October, or stocking up on new Icelandic sweaters. But this year is different because Ebola wool moths, more lethal even than the Marburg strain, have diabolically searched and destroyed at least sixty percent of all Hawaiian wool. The only remaining wool stocks at stores are women's lime green extra small petite. The silver lining, of course, is that mothball sales are soaring.
Seventy-eight degrees isn't that cold for northern hemisphere residents, but that coupled with a wind chill of 20 mph from pacific seasonal trade winds can cause Hawaiians delirium, frostbite, and private part shrinkage. Other means of cold protection, like poly fleece lined fancy-pants rainproof parkas, generate unhealthy levels of sweat and dehydration. Feathers from the Nene, an endangered goose species, provided warmth for a small population of native Hawaiian hundreds of years ago. But today the Nene is rare and protected. At risk population are very long time residents, and those who were born and remain on one of the islands.
There is hope however at the Duke Kahanamoku Wool Swim Wear Research Institute located on the big island. DKWSWRI, a non-profit, generously funded by the Hilo Hattie Foundation, has made great strides in identifying scratch-less moth resistant wool. Rare mutated Welch sheep, have supplied the most desirable blends for swimwear, and now production is ramping up for winter outerwear. Supplies will be limited but hopes are high to provide protection for those most severely affected by the El Nino driven Waimea Winters.