The other day, I was discussing trade winds (trades for short) with a prospect. His wife wanted to make sure the house or condo was situated to feel the trade winds. People often use the term to describe the beautiful ocean breezes that Hawaii is known for. The term actually has a formal definition as found here on Wikipedia established by ocean sailors.
Here are a few things to know about our Maui trades. It is a love/hate relationship. We miss them when they disappear and we curse them when they are here. They are pretty predictable day to day though we occasionally have different weather patterns (Kona Winds, South Swells) with no trades. We have pretty normal daily weather patterns where mornings are calm. Take advantage of that and scheduled yourg flat water sports (swimming, diving, snorkling, paddling) early in the day. Late morning to early afternoon, the trades pick up. Depending on where you are at on the island, there is not much “gentle” about them. Regular wind conditions in Ma’alaea gust up to 40 mph. Then, usually right before sunset, they die. Supposedly, this daily cycle is caused by the difference between water and air temps; when they are similar the winds subside.
Trade winds are easterly surface winds, that travel across the ocean. They may be gentle but when a gentle breeze has been traveling across thousands of miles of ocean and then smacks into a 10’000 ft mountain, the result is not always gentle. Further, on Maui, the winds are squeezed between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains creating a wind tunnel effect! This is why the central valley is so windy. The trades wrap around causing interesting and different weather around Maui. This wrap around effect is why in some areas, the trades seem to come from the north. For example, in South Maui, the trades come from the Northeast. If you only have west or south facing windows, no trades. My house faces west and we get great trade winds through the sides. I close my windows to keep the dust storm out on some days, though!
Although having a house/condo with good trades is great, it isn’t the only thing to consider to keep cool without air conditioning. Think about where the sun hits most of the day and what rooms will absorb most the heat. For example, a condo who’s main windows are shaded most the day will be much cooler than if they are exposed. Top floor units are often much warmer than their lower counterparts as 1) heat rises and 2) they get directly hit by roof heat. Put better windows in where you get direct sun and it will stay much cooler. And make sure to check that your attic crawl spaces are properly vented. If you have a house, select and plant trees to both shade your windows and reduce the winds.
Our trades influence many parts of our daily lives here in many ways:
- Don’t start dinner picnics until right at sunset; that way you won’t have to hold everything down with a 10 lb. weight.
- Carry weights with you at all times; you don’t know when you’ll need them. As a realtor, open house signs must be secured. I like using gallon+ jugs of water. (These also work great for rinsing your feet after the beach!). And I always carry bungee cords and my dive weight belts too.
- Shade structures are usually just temporary challenges waiting to be destroyed by the wind.
- Trade winds add a whole new dimension to golfing usually accompanied by cuss words.
- Especially for women, you must plan what you wear. Big flowy dresses and skirts should not be worn when winds are blowing. Images always have bikini clad women with a sarong blowing perfectly. The truth is you drop your groceries to keep your skirt from blowing over your head and exposing things that no one wants to see. Women learn to tie their skirts up to prevent overexposure!
- Hats become litter in 2 seconds flat.
- Speaking of litter, our winds are amazing at distributing things. Remember that most things picked up by trades usually end up in the ocean. Please secure everything. I’ve seen things as large as bouncy castles get picked up!
- Afternoon trips to some beaches will require full protective gear. Without it, you may be sandblasted!
If you enjoyed this, please leave a comment or your own Trade Wind stories.
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