Phantom Missile Alert in Hawaii

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So what’s up with the missile attack warning that was sounded early this morning at the 8 o clock hour? Many Hawaii residents statewide got cell phone text messages that read:

“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT DRILL.”

Several of my friends got the message by cell phone text alert. I did not.

The first I heard about this was a text that I got from my friend Daniel which read: “Did you just get an emergency text????” I answered in the negative. No text message for me. He followed up, “I am not joking.” He attached the screen shot from his phone as shown below:

Emergency Text Message
The emergency text that came to many cell phone early this morning (Jan. 13).

A few moments later, my friend Lisa called. She was in a state of panic. It was aggravating to her since she is also down and out with a viral strain of influenza. She also got the emergency text message.

Talking to her on the phone, I told her that it was probably a false alarm, but also to listen to the radio. I began to think it was a false alarm even if I was worried for a few minutes after the initial call.

What prompted me to this was the fact that when I turned the radio to KSSK AM & FM (where they have in the past did outstanding broadcasts of local emergencies) there was nothing to be found except for a re-run of a previous Perry & Price radio program.

Nothing there. This is likely a false alarm.

While talking to Lisa on my landline phone, I called Daniel on the cell phone. He told me his wife Emma had called the 911 emergency number who told her that it was, indeed a false alarm.

Just to make doubly sure, I called 911 after I got off the phone with Daniel. By then everyone else was probably in a panic as the 911 number was busy. Pity the poor soul who had to call if it was an actual emergency. Goes to show that in a massive alert scenario, that calling 911 will likely yield a busy signal unless you get in early.

Soon I took to Facebook where my friends and others were commenting on the situation. In about a half hour it was agreed and known among many that the emergency texts were a false  alarm.

Surely someone at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has to take responsibility for this major false alarm. A breaking news article published at the Honolulu Star Advertiser website stated that an “employee pushed the wrong button,” during a shift change.

An investigation is likely pending. Governor David Ige had a few words to say at this press conference today (KHON TV video):

Vern T. Miyagi, Administrator for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says they are investigating the incident and procedures. He did not or was not able to answer questions as to who specifically pressed the button at the agency and why not all cell phone users got the emergency text message.

The Governor and  agency have stated that they will not let this type of false alarm happen again.

There likely will be further news, discussion and legislative hearings on this in the coming days and weeks.

Hawaii can rest assured, that despite the dire warning and short term panic, that today’s “missile attack” was not the real thing. Perhaps it is a wake-up call to bring this issue to the forefront and help us be prepared for the next time.

 

 

 

 

First Sunrise & Full Moon of 2018

First Sunrise of 2018

First Sunrise of 2018

2018 started off with a spectacular full moon (a rarity for the first day of the year) and sunrise as captured in these images taken from Diamond Head Lookout in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Sunrise viewers had to get up early to catch the sunrise which occurred slightly after 7:08 a.m. in the morning.

The hour leading up to sunrise was filled with a starlit sky that gradually became the first morning on the new year, as the sun’s light slowly turned night into day.

It is hoped that with the dawn of a new day as well as a new year, that 2018 will be a year filled with peace, love and prosperity. Here’s wishing all of our readers the best in the new year.

First Sunrise of 2018

The sun rises in the east between the island of Maui and Lanai (above and below). Photos taken by Mel on January 1, 2018.

First Sunrise of 2018

First Day Sunrise Viewers

Spectators take in the sight of the new day in the new year of 2018.

Dawn’s Early Light

First Full Moon of 2018

The full moon which made an appearance on this first day of the new year of 2018, slowly left Hawaii as it moved on to Eastern Asia. Early risers were treated to the rare sight of a new year’s full moon setting about a half hour before sunrise. These two photos show the moon setting behind the bulk of Diamond Head mountain on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

First Full Moon of 2018

More photos can be found on the Hawaii Files Flickr page. Images and text by Melvin Ah Ching.

Saturday is Free Live Museum Day

Smithsonian Museum Live Day graphic

Throwback Thursday (#TBT)

It’s always Throwback Thursday when you visit any one of Hawaii’s museums. This coming Saturday, September 23 will be a special day for visiting 4 of Oahu’s museums for the absolute low price of a FREE admission ticket.

Yes, through the Smithsonian Museum Day Live! program visitors can gain free access to the following Oahu, Hawaii museums by just signing up and downloading a free ticket for two!

The Oahu museums included in the free offer are: Hawaii State Art Museum (free admission daily), Iolani Palace, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii Historical Gallery and the Pacific Aviation Museum at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor.

My favorite continues to be the Pacific Aviation Museum which is a must for any wartime history buff and aviation fan.

There is still time to snag a free ticket by just visiting the Smithsonian Museum Day Live! page. Have a great Saturday at the museum.

Boeing N2S-3 StearmanAbove and below: Two of dozens of aircraft on display at the Pacific Aviaton Museum on Ford Island.

Pacific Aviation Museum

Iolani Palace EveningFree admission this Saturday at Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu’s Capitol District. Photos Copyright to Melvin Ah Ching.

Hawaii’s Glimpse at the Great American Solar Eclipse

2017 Hawaii Solar Eclipse

Today's Solar Eclipse

By Melvin Ah Ching, Editor & Publisher, The Hawaii Files Blog

As solar eclipses go, yesterday’s partial one in Honolulu was adequately good. The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017 was a huge phenomena and event throughout the continental United States as the path of totality traveled eastward in a narrow 70 mile wide band from the Oregon coast to the tip of South Carolina. Much of the continent had a good partial eclipse that covered most of the sun.

In a solar eclipse, the moon’s shadow blots out the sunlight as it passes between the sun and the Earth. During totality that shadow blocks out nearly all sunlight except for a narrow band around the perimeter that creates a remarkable and unforgettable view. Solar eclipses are rare occurrences that track within small and varied regions of Earth’s surface. Within the eclipse’s band, many areas get a partial eclipse while totality only occurs within a smaller zone.

Millions of people on the U.S. continent witnessed and captured images of the eclipse going into and out of totality including the 2 minute long phase of full shadowed coverage.

In Honolulu, my friend Lisa Davidson and I awoke early and trekked to the Waialae Kahala Beach Park an hour before sunrise to secure a good viewing spot that I scoped out the day before. Anticipating the eclipse, which started near Hawaii, Lisa and I both photographed the changing light around us as night receded into the new day. The rising sun was going to be in the eclipse process. I had to be prepared for that.

I had three cameras with me including my Canon 600D SLR with a 300mm lens set up on a tripod, Fujifilm HS10 EVF with a wide to long built in zoom lens, and a Samsung smart phone that can also do pictures. Lisa had her trusty little Samsung that she used to catch the “feel” of the moments. We both had protective eclipse viewers that I got last year from Bishop Museum. I used the 58mm screw on sun filter for the cameras to get eclipse images.

We were set. We waited. Talked. Photographed. The sunrise was pretty, but the clouds were getting in the way. I was wondering if the clouds would pre-empt my eclipse view.

Eclipse times for Hawaii from timeanddate.com.

Sunrise in Honolulu was at 6:11 am. Moonrise was 2 minutes earlier at 6:09am. The eclipse began at 5:50am before the sun rose. Everything was in motion for a good eclipse except for the clouds.

It was not until 7:16 am that I caught my first fleeting glimpse of the sun poking through the clouds. I fired the Canon for a continuous burst of images as the clouds slowly broke and the sun revealed its new face for a few moments. And then the clouds rolled back in.

I got a few images but I wanted more. My wish came true as the clouds slowly blew away and the eclipsed sun appeared again as I fired more frames off with the camera. I got my 20% or probably a little less than that. It was better than nothing and certainly better than the 10% that I got during last year’s eclipse from Magic Island.

I snapped more photos in the next 15 minutes of the waning spectacle.

Lisa was thrilled as she was able to see the eclipse through my camera’s LCD screen and the protective filters that allowed us to view the show with our own eyes. She was very thankful that I shared these moments with her.

One of Lisa’s most mystical experiences was viewing a total solar eclipse when she was nine, living in New Hampshire. “The intense darkness in the middle of the day fueled my fascination with astronomy and science fiction. I’ll never forget how all the birds suddenly went silent.”

By 7:30 in the morning the Hawaii eclipse was over. The sun was out, the day was bright and life would continue as it always does.

It turns out that this year’s solar eclipse is the last one to be visible in Hawaii until April 8, 2024, when another total eclipse will be viewable in the continental United States. The next total solar eclipse occurs in the southeastern Pacific Ocean and over the South American countries of Chile and Argentina on July 2, 2019.


Photos by Mel unless indicated.

Today's Solare EclipseThis is one of the best shots I got of yesterday’s solar eclipse. Investing in a screw on solar lens filter is worth the money!

Sunlit Clouds Over Koko HeadThe beautiful but sunlight blocking clouds over Koko Head

What To Watch
Catching a live video stream while waiting for clouds to depart.

Monday Morning SunriseThe beautiful Hawaiian sunrise and clouds blocked the sun for nearly 40 minutes after the eclipse began.

Streaming From OregonWatching a live stream from Oregon as we waited out the clouds.

Today's Solar EclipseYou can get a decent shot out of your cell phone camera if you put one of those protective eye safety filters in front of your camera lens. Lisa did that and it got her this picture with the tiny sun chopped slightly to the bottom left.

Eclipse 2017 - 1Solar eclipse view from Ontario, Canada. Keith Watson Photography.

2017 Aug. 21 ~ The Diamond Ring - total solar eclipseTotality, August 21, 2017 – Kansas, United States. Michael Watson, photographer.

2017 Total Solar Eclipse - ISS TransitInternational Space Station in transit ahead of the moon. NASA. You can also see sunspots in this excellent photo.


KHON TV’s McKenna Maduli reports on the eclipse from Waialae Kahala Beach park not too far away from where we were. There are 3 clips embedded in this video composite.

Additional Links:

Kaiwi the Hawaiian Monk Seal Came In For a Snooze

Kaiwi, the Hawaiian Monk Seal

This is Kaiwi, a Hawaiian Monk Seal who took time out this morning to rest on the shoreline of Queen’s Beach in Waikiki. She is known to NOAA animal officials who monitor the endangered species. The seal was born  in 2016 at the Ka Iwi area of Oahu island.

Hawaiian Monk Seals are an endangered species and are protected bynow protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Kaiwi has frequented the Waikiki area in the past, most recently in July during the time that another female monk seal named “Rocky” gave birth and nutured her pup on Kaimana Beach near the Waikiki Natatorium.

People are reminded to keep their distance away from the Hawaiian Monk Seal. It is a violation of several federal laws to go near or harass a monk seal.

Needless to say the seals do attract a crowd as they did this morning. NOAA officials were quickly dispatched to the scene to establish a secure zone around the seal. Many people including I hung around for a while to get pictures. The photos accompanying this piece were shot between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. in the morning.

More photos are on the Hawaii Files Flickr page.

People can report Hawaiian Monk Seal sightings to the NOAA. There is also a Facebook page.

Kaiwi the Hawaiian Monk SealHere’s looking at you kid.

Keep Your Distance from the SealKeep your distance from the seal. Do not approach. Seal sleeping.

Kaiwi just wants to sleepAll Kaiwi came to the beach to do is sleep. She gets first class treatment in the heart of Waikiki with her own beach zone.

More photos on Flickr.