Mauka Clouds (1997)

A mass of clouds and tropical moist air streams over the mountains behind Waikiki, as seen from the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor at the “Ewa” (western) end of Waikiki. Ala Wai harbor is the departure point for Waikiki tour boats.

Mauka (“m’ow-ka”) means “toward the mountains” or “inland.” It’s one of the Hawaiian words that have become fully assimilated into English in the Islands. When giving directions, a location can be on the mauka side of the road or the makai side (toward the ocean). It’s also a ubiquitous term in weather reporting, most often as the “mauka showers” that feature in nearly every Hawaiian weather forecast. Tropical atmospheric moisture condenses into clouds and rain as the wind moves it over mountains in the interior of islands. Thus, inland areas may have “mauka showers” even when coastal beaches are blissfully free of “liquid sunshine.”

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