Friday, August 08, 2014
At 12:30 pm today, August 8, all is calm on Oahu - winds and some rain but nothing devastating so we are all very thankful to the Lord!


In response to the continuing crisis facing Christians in Iraq, Pope Francis has named Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to the war-torn country. Plans are also underway to bring all Holy Sees representatives in the region to Rome for a meeting to support the tens of thousands of people who’ have been forced to flee by militants of the recently established Islamic State. Speaking to Vatican Radio on Friday, Cardinal Filoni, who heads the Holy See’'s missionary efforts as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said his appointment is aimed at showing the Pope’'s concern and solidarity with the Christians of Iraq.

Cardinal Filoni said he hopes to bring the Pope’'s concerns to those who’ have been humiliated and are suffering as they flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. He also said he would be working closely with Iraq’'s Chaldean Patriarch Luis Rafael I Sako to see what else the Universal Church can do to support these displaced people.

Commenting on the appointment, the head of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi noted that Cardinal Filoni served for six years as nuncio to Jordan and Iraq during the final stages of Saddam Hussein'’s rule and throughout the war years. Fr. Lombardi said during the bombing of Baghdad he was one of the very few foreign diplomats who remained in the city, demonstrating his courageous love and dedication to the suffering people there.

The papal spokesman said all the nuncios in that region have been asked to share Pope Francis’ most recent appeal with both the political and religious authorities in each country, in order to promote “a movement of prayer and solidarity” with “our brothers and sisters”, and with all people struck by this dramatic and tragic situation. He said plans are currently being discussed for a meeting of those nuncios in Rome, most likely in September, to discuss further initiatives and show the whole Church'’s closeness to the Christians of Iraq. (Vatican Radio)


As I write it is Thursday, August 7, 11 am Honolulu time (5 pm ET). I am at the home of my friends Trip and Jan McKinney in Aiea, a neighborhood of Honolulu. Their three-level home is on a hillside overlooking a small residential valley and the magnificent and historic Pearl Harbor and Pacific Ocean. Each level has a beautiful lanai (porch) which, given the generally beautiful weather that is conducive to spending a lot of time outside, becomes the dining room, living too and even office, if one wishes! My guest quarters and lanai are on the bottom level.

As I pen these words, it is a typically spectacular Hawaiian day blue skies, a view of Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Ocean, tropical trees and fruit plants of all sizes and dimensions swaying in the breeze, beautiful to look at as they create an aura of privacy around the house. It is serene, restful and almost meditative I always feel surrounded by the hand of God in Hawaii - here as nowhere else on earth. At such moments, the Hawaiian expression hang loose comes trippingly off the tongue.

At such moments, it seems impossible that, by bedtime, we will probably be in the throes of strong winds and rain from the first of two scheduled hurricanes, Hurricane Iselle! Life has seemed fairly normal in past days as I have visited some of the sights of Honolulu and the island of Oahu and shared meals with some of my many friends in Hawaii. Behind the scenes, however, people are preparing for the worst. Water and toilet paper and canned goods, to name but a few items, have almost disappeared from store shelves. Lumber, plywood, flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies and other essentials needed for protecting a home from devastating winds have also been in great demand.

Jan and Trip are building a beautiful retirement home next to their current place and, as the expression, goes, they have battened down all the hatches at that site and are in the process of storing as much of the lanai furniture as possible on the house we now live in. Their retirement home will, down the road, be a home for retired religious.

Power outages are expected with the arrival of Iselle, thus I have no idea of when I might post another column and storm update after this evening. Ill do what I can I wont have time, of course, to answer emails. Ill post news and updates on Twitter ( Follow Joan on Twitter
) and Facebook ( Follow Joan on Facebook
) IF and WHEN we have power, wi-fi, etc Will post some photos shortly on Facebook.

Meanwhile, what follows is from a blog I found that gives you a fair idea of what we expect here:

Update, Aug. 7, 2014: This post has been updated to reflect the latest developments of Hurricane Iselle.

What to Expect From Hawaii's First Hurricane Landfall in 22 Years - Eric Holthaus

Hawaii is less than a day away from its first direct strike by a tropical system since Category 4 Hurricane Iniki made landfall on Kauai in 1992. And this time around, there could be a second hit just days later.

As of Thursday morning, Hawaii time, Hurricane Iselle was still on track to make an unprecedented landfall on the southern half of the Big Island, with a Hurricane Warning now in effect for the Big Island. Due in part to its symmetry, at least one model predicts it will keep its hurricane status until landfallin line with official forecasts. The last tropical system to impact the Big Island was a low-end tropical storm in 1958, which fizzled over the northern half, near Hilo. On its current path, Iselle will be the first hurricane to make landfall on the Big Island in recorded history. On its heels is Hurricane Julio, expected to make a close approach on Monday.

Hawaiian hurricanes are rare. So rare that the National Weather Service doesnt quite know what will happen, especially with Iselles circulation interacting with the two huge volcanoes on the Big Island (THE BIG ISLAND IS HAWAII I AM ON OAHU), Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The volcanoes could help to disrupt Iselles circulation, or they could even enhance its winds.

Since Iselles center will likely make landfall on the southern part of the island, the brunt of its counter-clockwise circulating winds will hit the rest of the island.

But theres some good news: Iselle seems to be ingesting a significant amount of dry air (the yellows shown in the above satellite animation), which adds uncertainty to the forecast and may help weaken it slightly. Also, the forecast track of the second storm, Julio, seems to be veering increasingly north of the islands. However, Hawaii shouldnt write off Julio just yet. The historically most accurate computer model for hurricane forecasting, the ECMWF, shows Julio making the closest approach of all the major models with statewide impacts on Monday as a tropical storm.

Heres what the 50th state can expect from the twin threats, island by island (I AM JUST GIVING OAHU FOR NOW):

OAHU: Hawaiis most populous island can expect up to 10 inches of rain in Honolulu with a 24-hour stretch of winds near tropical storm force late Thursday into Friday. There will be a short break on Saturday before Julios heavy rain starts on Sunday and Monday, though it wont be as bad as Iselles. The south shores of the island will have the heaviest surf with Iselle, and the north shore will face the brunt of Julio.

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