A few months ago I had the chance to talk to KGMB Hawaii News Now’s weatherman Guy Hagi about his take on “Kai E’e”, the “tsunami that never happened” episode. Due to his schedule, I interviewed him about a week after the episode aired. When I finally edited the interview, the disastrous Japanese earthquake and tsunami happened. Ironically, we discussed the tsunami that hit us February 27, 2010 in Hawaii after a Chilean earthquake. Tens of thousands tuned in to Guy’s reports on Hawaii News Now that day. Monday’s rebroadcast of “Kai E’e” finally gave me the opportunity to run my interview with Guy.
Guy has been the weather reporter for KGMB since 1997, and even before that I remember him giving the surf reports on the radio as a teen. His reports determined what beach we went to! Read his full bio on the Hawaii News Now website.
Guy, thanks for taking the time to talk! You’ve been in the weather business for 30 years. How’d you get so good?
I did the surf report for 20 years. When you’re doing the surf report, you take into account the weather. In 1994 the weather position became open on KITV, then I moved to KHNL. Finally, I moved to KGMB where I’ve been for ten years. My strength is in my experience with the weather that we have, and communicating that. Being born and raised here, I’ve seen every type of weather scenario, just about everything.
I heard you surf…
I’m a decent surfer, but forget about keeping with the professional guys… I know enough to know what i can and can’t handle [laughs]. But no one will mistake me for a pro surfer.
We had some excitement last year with a real life tsunami…how did the tsunami start?
It was a long day very exciting and nerve wracking. I left at nine o’clock the night before, and then was back by five the next morning. I talked to the guys at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Chip McCreary and Gerard Fryer. The tsunami started from an earthquake in Chile the night before.
How did we get off easy?
It was a matter of angle, direction. The strange thing was that Japan got it worse than us. But right off the bat when we heard about the Chilean earthquake or if anything [on the Richter scale] goes above eight, all the alarm bells sound. The earthquake happened at the same place that triggered the tsunami that hit Hilo in 1960.
What was the craziest thing you saw that day?
The guy wading out into the water into Waikiki. At that point of the morning, it was pointless to try to go after him.
Tell me seriously, were you really always that calm and cool during the broadcast?
[Laughs] Of course!
So when did you know that we were in the clear?
I think when we were about noon, into the first wave, we could tell it wasn’t going to get any bigger. Sometimes the water was rising three or four feet above normal. I was waiting for the experts to say that we were all clear, but there are no absolutes… The science is still developing and is far from being perfect. The thing about the Hawaii Five-0 tsunami is that it only occurred because of a locally triggered event. In that case, the wave would happen in minutes. Last year, we had hours to prepare. We had a slow easy exit…
Speaking of Five-0, just about your whole family has been on the show, right?
Yeah, my son was a body double, in the one episode with the general [Po’ipu]. Luke was a body double for the general’s kid. Kids can only act so many hours of the day, so they had to bring Luke in to do the non verbal and other stuff where you couldn’t see his face. He was excited, got to be part of the “bang bang shoot ’em up” scene in Kaka’ako.
What about your wife, Kim [Gennaula]?
Kim has an agent…she auditioned and she got the part [in “Ho’apono”]. She’s got acting chops, she’s going to be in “The Descendants” [upcoming movie starring George Clooney] as a school counselor.
Wow, I hope you get a shot on the show too! What did you think of “Kai E’e” and the fake tsunami?
Pieces of it were accurate. But as a whole, it far reaching. Probably the timetable was the most far reaching… The science is good but not infallible.
So what was up with Danno and his cut off denim shorts?
I didn’t notice that!!! I think it was meant to emphasize that he was a land lubber, not a lack of his beach fashion sense. He just didn’t know what to wear at the beach.
Scott Caan’s a surfer too, right?
I’ve never seen him in the water. I’ve seen footage of him surf, he knows what he’s doing on a long board. The funny thing to me was that in the show, he was the one who didn’t know how to surf. He’s the best surfer of the whole crew. Granted he’s from the Malibu scene with full suits and long boards, but he looks good.
What about Kono…she looked good in that bikini…
We cant get enough of that, can we? She’s a great looking gal, but I wish they would expand on her character and Daniel’s character too. Right now its the bromance kind of thing they’re developing, and I think they might actually over do it. I think as a local guy, I like how the show is evolving, Hawaii is a great big character in the show… the scenery is just amazing.
So being in the business of weather and surfing for over 30 years, is it true that you can actually control the weather?
[Laughing] As a weather guy, i get way too much credit and way too much blame. But every weather guy gets the same things: [in a thick pidgin] “Eh!!! You were right with the weather, thanks!” Or “Eh!!! You were wrong! You ruined the whole weekend!” I wish though that I had a switch to turn the surf on and off!
Mahalo for your time, Guy!