Tropical Paradise: Get It While It’s Hot!

January 24, 2017
Tropical Island

Are you tired of the cold? Do your arms ache just thinking of shoveling snow?

Have I got a vacation escape for you! It’s a brand new tropical island—barely a month old. It’s toasty warm, fresh from a volcano! The baby island is so new that it doesn’t even have a name, but it’s in the Polynesian nation of Tonga. Think of blue oceans and warm sands, really, really warm sands.

Tonga: Doesn’t this look better than another snowstorm? Source: Wikipedia

You better hurry, this isn’t the first time this island has appeared. It is the tip of an underwater volcano between two tropical islands, Hunga Tonga and Hunga Haʻapa. The islands are actually the rim of a giant caldera. Not only are they unattractively covered with guano, their native names mean the islands that “jump back and forth” indicating they have frequent earthquakes.

The earthquakes are associated with volcanic activity. Back in 2009, the volcano in the middle erupted enough to peek above the surface of the water. Then, when it quieted, wave erosion washed it underwater again.

A new island being born while “red tide” algae flourishes around it. Source: NASA

Last December 19, while most people were getting ready to celebrate Christmas, the volcano had another real blast. By January 11, the ash and debris were messing with airplane travel. Algae thrived on the chemicals and two days later, the region formed a deadly red tide. On January 16, the island was reborn and ten days later the eruptions stopped. It’s a little larger than a square mile in diameter. It is mostly loose volcanic rocks, so it probably won’t last, but for the moment, it is the youngest island in the world.

Actually new islands are not that unique. There have been 5 born over the last 5 years, two in Japan, one in Yemen, one in Pakistan and the newest in Tonga. That’s more than usual; the Earth is a bit restless.

So much for the tropics! We are returning you to your regularly scheduled snow. Source: NOAA

But isn’t it nice to know that if you get restless looking at the latest storm, there is a fresh warm little island waiting for you in the tropics.

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.