Hawaii is a tropical paradise, but it’s no secret that it occasionally faces the wrath of Mother Nature in the form of tropical cyclones, or what we commonly call hurricanes.
The timing of hurricane season in Hawaii can impact your travel plans, safety, and overall experience.
Stick with me, and I’ll guide you through everything you need to know about this unique aspect of island life. From the months to watch out for to tips on staying prepared, I’ve got you covered.
So, grab your virtual lei, and let’s explore the ins and outs of hurricane season in Hawaii together!
When Is Hurricane Season in Hawaii?
Hawaii’s hurricane season kicks off on June 1st, making it feel like summer is officially in full swing.
But hold on to your sunhat; there’s more to this story!
This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is giving us a heads-up. They predict an uptick in cyclone activity in the central Pacific, thanks to El Niño doing its thing.
Brace yourself; they’re forecasting four to seven cyclones this year. So, pack some extra sunscreen and a dash of hurricane prep.
Peak Times for Hurricane Season in Hawaii
Now, let’s talk about the juicy details: when do things get stormy?
While hurricane season stretches from June to November, the real action unfolds in July, August, and September. These are the months when the weather likes to throw its wildest parties.
Warm ocean water, those trade winds, and Hawaii’s prime location amidst the Pacific Ocean create the perfect recipe for hurricane development.
Since 1950, Hawaii has been hit directly by only five hurricanes or tropical storms. So, odds are in your favor, but it’s wise to be prepared.
When Does Hurricane Season End in Hawaii
You might be wondering when you can safely book that tropical getaway. The good news is that hurricane season in Hawaii calls it quits on November 30th.
So, if you’re planning a late fall escape, the sun will still be shining, and those warm ocean waters will be ready for you to dive into.
Just keep an eye on weather updates to be on the safe side.
Where Do Hurricanes Hit in Hawaii?
Alright, adventurer, you’ve got your sunblock and a hula skirt, but what about your hurricane radar? Let’s talk about where those sneaky hurricanes like to crash our Hawaiian party.
The Westward Drifters
So, picture this: About two-thirds of these stormy systems make their grand entrance by drifting in from the eastern Pacific basin.
From 1950 to 2021, around 30 hurricanes decided to swing by within 200 nautical miles of the Big Island, Maui, Honolulu, or Kauai.
Now, here’s the twist: Hawaii isn’t one big, inviting target for these hurricanes. Nope, we’re a string of islands, and we all get a taste of the action.
Hurricane Iniki famously gave Kauai a not-so-warm welcome in 1992. Nearly 15,000 homes got a free makeover, but trust me, nobody wanted that kind of renovation.
Oahu, the heart of our island chain, has also had its share of hurricane-induced bad hair days.
Maui’s Lucky Streak
Then there’s Maui, our second-largest island, playing a long game of hide-and-seek with hurricanes. It’s been over a century since a hurricane decided to personally visit.
But hey, tropical storms like to crash the party occasionally, bringing rain, wind, and a little chaos. Tropical Storm Olivia was that uninvited guest in 2018, making a splash with heavy rainfall and some messy yard work.
The Big Island, Big Risks
Last but not least, let’s not forget the Big Island. In 2018, Hurricane Lane wanted to drop by for a coffee but settled for a downpour instead.
It weakened to a tropical storm, but boy, did it leave a mess with 19 inches of rain! Major flooding and property damage? Check.
Are Hurricanes That Bad in Hawaii?
No. The good news is that the hurricanes in Hawaii aren’t as frequent or as devastating as you might think.
Why, you ask?
First off, we’re smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by warm waters that hurricanes love. But here’s the twist – Hawaii sits right in the path of the easterly trade winds.
When a hurricane decides to swing our way, these trade winds play defense and push it back, like a well-timed block in a game of beach volleyball.
Then there’s the cold water.
While most of the Pacific Ocean is like a warm bath for hurricanes, the water around Hawaii tends to be on the cooler side. Cold water is like kryptonite for hurricanes. It saps their strength and takes the wind out of their sails.
Oh, and don’t forget the size factor.
The Pacific Ocean is vast, while our islands are like tiny specks in comparison. Hurricanes have plenty of room to roam before they reach us, and by then, they’ve often lost their mojo.
The Worst Hurricanes to Hit Hawaii Over the Years
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and meet some of the worst troublemakers that have graced our islands.
Hurricane ʻIniki: The Sneaky Surprise (1992)
Picture this: It’s 1992, and everyone’s chilling on the beautiful island of Kauai, blissfully unaware of what’s about to hit them. Hurricane ʻIniki, a Category 4 monster, decided to pay a visit.
The eye of the storm passed right over Kauai, causing a staggering $2 to $3 billion in damages across the islands. Talk about an unexpected guest!
The day before, no one even blinked at the thought of a hurricane, but ʻIniki took a nasty northward turn, catching everyone off guard. It goes down in history as one of the worst hurricanes to hit Hawaii.
Hurricane Iwa: When Chaos Rained (1982)
Fast forward to November 1982, and we’ve got Hurricane Iwa, named after Hawaii’s great frigatebird. This storm meant business.
Once again, Kauai found itself in the eye of the storm, but the chaos spread to Niihau and Oahu too. Imagine this: 120 mph winds, exposed live wires, and 30-foot seas. Tourists and locals alike were in for a wild ride.
Now, this storm wasn’t playing around. Thousands of buildings were damaged, leaving hundreds homeless in temporary shelters. Even the mighty Pearl Harbor had to turn away 30 battleships and wait it out at sea. Sadly, the storm claimed a life and threw sailors overboard.
How to Prepare for Hurricane Season in Hawaii: The Tourist’s Guide
While you and I are all about relaxing and enjoying the surf, we’re also serious about staying safe during hurricane season. Here’s your crash course on how to prepare – Hawaiian style!
How to Prepare Beforehand
Hurricane season in Hawaii may sound like an unexpected twist in your vacation script, but don’t worry; I’ve got a playbook to keep you safe.
- Stay glued to those news and weather reports. I’m talking about National Weather Service updates and advice from our local authorities.
- Gather your ohana (that’s Hawaiian for family) and discuss what you’ll do if a hurricane decides to join your luau. Figure out where to go, how to get there, and designate a meeting spot in case the tiki torches go out.
- Prepare an emergency kit that includes water, non-perishable snacks, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, and your necessary medications. Don’t forget to grab your IDs and insurance papers – they’re your golden tickets to smooth sailing.
- Check your vacation pad for loose ends – literally. Anything that could blow away or turn into a flying pineapple during a storm should be secured. Board up windows if you can.
- Before the season hits, hit the stores. Stock up on extra supplies like food, water, and batteries. Remember, it’s better to have too many snacks than not enough.
- In case the tides turn against you, know your way out. Find the best routes to leave your area, and plan multiple options in case some roads aren’t visible enough.
How to Prepare During the Hurricane
When the skies turn shades of gray and the trade winds get a little too frisky, safety becomes the name of the game.
- Stay Inside and Away from Windows: When the storm is in town, stay indoors. Don’t be a hero – windows and hurricanes don’t mix. Keep your emergency kit and important papers within arm’s reach.
- Listen to the News: Your TV and radio are your best friends during a hurricane. Stay tuned for updates, and follow the instructions from our authorities.
- Evacuate if Needed: If the call comes to evacuate, don’t hesitate. Grab your emergency stash and hit the road. Safety first! And remember, don’t venture outside until it’s safe to do so.
- No Candles, Flashlights Rule: If the lights go out, don’t resort to romantic candlelit dinners. Stick with flashlights to avoid any fiery mishaps.
What are the best months to visit Hawaii?
I’d recommend visiting between April and October for warm weather and fewer crowds.
Is Hawaii safe during hurricane season?
Hawaii can experience hurricanes during June to November, but with proper preparation and monitoring, it’s generally safe.
What month is the worst for hurricanes in Hawaii?
The peak hurricane months in Hawaii are July, August, and September, making them the riskiest for potential hurricanes.
In the land of Aloha, hurricane season in Hawaii (June to November) may bring surprises, but with a plan, supplies, and staying informed, you can savor the sun and surf. Remember, Hawaii’s charm shines through any storm.
Stay safe, stay prepared, and let the island spirit guide you!