Vogged In

The blue sky disappeared under the vog last Wednesday . . . but was back on Thursday.

Air pollution on Kaua’i? Out there in the middle of the ocean? You must be kidding!

We don’t get it very often, but once in a while, maybe three or four days in the early part of the year, vog makes it all the way over here from the Big Island. Vog (a word created by combining volcano + fog) is air pollution caused when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles given off by the active volcanos on the Big Island react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. Like smog (the combination of smoke + fog), vog can make eyes water, make it difficult to breathe, and aggravate allergies. It can get thick enough to hide mountains and block out the blue sky.

Vog is one of the primary reasons we chose to move to Kaua’i versus the Big Island. It can be a big issue there depending on where you live, and as someone who grew up in the Los Angeles area when air pollution and smog levels were at their peak in the 1950s and 60s, I was not interested in repeating that experience in any way, even though the cost of living on the BI is much lower than it is here on Kaua’i.

The winds and air currents have to be just right for vog to make it all the way to Kaua’i, and it seems to always come in from the south. People living on the north shore rarely get it. If we are seeing vog here on the east side of Kaua’i, I know it’s most likely bad on the south shore, even worse on Oahu, awful on Maui and probably downright miserable on the Big Island.

Thankfully vog doesn’t hang around too long here; the winds soon change and blow it away and we can forget about it for another year or so.