Wave hello to the heat

More air conditioner installation and shave ice sales reported

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice has been hitting the spot the past few weeks amid record-setting high temperatures. Shown are workers Courtney Aperto (left) and team leader Niveen Bacalso at the Maui Lani store. The Maui News / MELISSA TANJI photos

As record high temperatures of 90 degrees and higher continue to be set on Maui, the heat has turned up business for air conditioning companies and those serving cool sweet treats.

“It’s been great. . . . Business has definitely been booming in all shops. That’s pretty indicative it’s weather-related,” said David Yamashiro, co-founder and partner of Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice.

Yamashiro estimated that business was up about 15 percent during the current heat streak and that lines were out the doors. There are multiple Ululani’s locations on Maui, including in Paia, Kahului, Kihei and West Maui.

In another measure of how hot it is, even Yamashiro, who usually does not partake of the soft and sweet-flavored ice treats, has been indulging recently.

“I haven’t had one in a long, long time,” he said, laughing.

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice worker Courtney Aperto shaves off some of the fine ice before pouring syrup on a customer’s order at the Maui Lani store. In the back is Jade Topp.

Air conditioner companies also are beneficiaries of the heatwave. At A1 Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Sheetmetal in Kahului, owner Michael Saito said: “We’re super busy right now.”

“This past month, yeah, people been calling,” Saito said. “They didn’t even look at the price.”

On Monday, another record high temperature was set at Kahului Airport — 94 degrees. The old record was 93 degrees set in 1953, according to the National Weather Service.

Since May 16, Maui has seen 18 record-setting or -tying high temperature days. The highest so far was 96 degrees on May 26 at the Kahului Airport, where the National Weather Service temperature sensors are located.

Weather service meteorologist Melissa Dye said sensors at Kahului Airport were inspected last week because of the number of records. There were no abnormalities but the sensors were replaced anyway.

The sensors are not affected by the hot engines of airplanes or the runway, she added.

“It is entirely possible” that Maui will continue to hit 90 degrees and above, Dye said, noting the trend that has lasted for almost a month.

Glenn James, a senior weather analyst with the Pacific Disaster Center in Kihei, said that summer, which officially begins Friday, gets a head start in the tropics. Like Dye, he said the heatwave likely will continue.

“So June can be as hot as July, August and September,” said James, who runs the web page Hawaii Weather Today.

“One of the issues we’ve had lately is that the normal easterly trade winds have at times shifted to the southeast. This in turn brings downslope winds off the shoulder of the Haleakala Crater. Descending winds warm as they come down to sea level at the airport, which adds to the already hot temperatures on a normal day,” James said.

He added that areas such as Kahului, Lahaina and Kihei have had a hot spring, but “nothing too out of the ordinary that I know of.”

James said that the latest forecast has southeast to southerly winds possible toward the weekend.

“This may bring more hotter than normal weather, and unfortunately . . . some added humidity, too,” he said.

This could translate to more customers at Kahului’s Tutti Frutti, which is usually slow on Sundays and Mondays but not during the heatwave.

“It’s been crazy,” said manager Allene Pock.

Customers usually come out during the day but also are showing up in the evenings. Pock said it is also peak time for the business with summer vacation for schoolchildren.

“We are getting a lot of customers because it’s hot outside,” Pock said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.


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