HONOLULU (KHON2) – We all make use of our island roadways, but when was the last time you paid attention to the given names?  Did you know you could learn more about Hawaiian culture and knowledge if you did?  

KHON2’s weekly “Aloha Authentic” segment highlights various roadways across the islands so we can dig into the names, and in turn, learn something new.  

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This week, we brought our attention to the sky overhead. In the ahupuaʻa of Hālawa, which lies in the moku of ʻEwa on Oʻahu, stands a residential street that is named after puffy clouds: ʻŌpua St.

In Hawaii, names are very important as they tell a story — including topics such as weather. In Hawaiian knowledge, there are over 500 names for clouds and that does not include the variation of names for specific locations.

The word for “cloud” in the Hawaiian language is Ao. The descriptive words that follow help to share what it could mean. Ao ʻŌpua refers to puffy clouds or cumulus clouds.  

Cumulus clouds can look puffy like a pig’s belly, and as a result, the term Ao Puaʻa (Puaʻa meaning “pig”) is a general term for cumulus clouds as well. These types of clouds usually identify a good day.

The word ʻĪlio means “dog.” 

Ao ʻĪlio refers to stratocumulus clouds, low-level clumps or patches of clouds. Like a pack of dogs, these clouds run from one side of the sky to the other, identifying a potential change in the weather ahead.

Found in the upper levels of the sky are cirrus clouds. These are thin, feather-like clouds that tend to wisp out like the wings of a bird. These are called Ao Manu — manu meaning “bird.” These clouds help to predict wind and give off those beautiful colors during sunsets. 

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Did you know? Now you do!