Hawaiian Hurricanes

August 30, 2016

5pm Tuesday…

This has nothing to do with our weather of course, but there’s an interesting situation going on near Hawaii right now.  Not one but TWO hurricanes (Category 3 storms!) are heading west in the general direction of the Hawaiian island chain.  Madeline and Lester look like a beautiful couple from space:

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but as you can see from the stats they are both quite dangerous storms that you sure don’t want to see make landfall.   A Hurricane Warning was issued a couple of hours ago for the Big Island of Hawaii. Also a Tropical Storm Watch for Maui county which includes Molokai and Lanai too.

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Madeline has weakened, but still a category 3 storm that should make it’s closest approach (or actually make landfall) late tomorrow night Portland time. If it survives the slightly cooler water and maintains hurricane status AND hits the island? That will be the first time in recorded hurricane history that a hurricane has hit an island other than Kauai. In the past they have always weakened or veered away…pretty hard for a storm to hit those little specks of land! I should point out that detailed records only go back to the mid-1900s.  There is a good chance Madeline just misses South Point, the southernmost point (cleverly named!) of the Big Island too, so there may yet be no hurricane strike.

Check out the historic record of storms that got within 75 miles of the islands, it does not appear to include the last few years though since a tropical storm hit the east coast of the Big Island either last year or in 2014.

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Kauai sure seems to like those storms doesn’t it?  Interesting that 3 in the last 50 years have either hit the island or (in Iwa’s case) zoomed very close by.  Also note the storms that HAVE caused lots of damage are those that zoom quickly up from the south (much warmer water) and move north over the islands.  These storms coming from the east have not typically been very strong.

Hawaii often sees little or no hurricane activity because the ocean water is barely warm enough to support these tropical cyclones.  Most of the time the water is around 73-80 degrees, peaking out right around 80 in the late summer.

And THAT, is your Hawaiian hurricane update…

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen