Hawaiian Hurricanes

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:


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.


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.


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


25 Responses to Hawaiian Hurricanes

  1. WEATHERDAN says:

    Starting next weekend it looks like a cool airmass slides down East of the Rockies. This should mean warmer conditions for us. Could be a typical September Coho wind situation. Summer isn’t finished yet. 72 and Partly cloudy at 4:00 PM. Peace.

  2. Andy T says:

    “This has nothing to do with our weather of course”

    Don’t count your chickens….

    It’s the ONLY explanation for this (taken about 30 minutes ago) that I can think of.

    The high frequency (these are probably 5 or 6x the frequency of “normal” mountain waves) ripples align with terrain peaks behind me (1600 feet kind of stuff). Facing EAST, near Gaston:

    I’m scratching my head about why it’s oscillating at such a high frequency.

    The cumulus is running NE, which is a classical “sou’ wester” for the area.

    • W7ENK says:

      There is absolutely no connection between your “high frequency ruffly ridgey clouds” and a pair of hurricanes that are over 2,500 miles away. None whatsoever.

  3. JERAT416 says:

    In the Pacific, aren’t they called typhoons?

    • Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

      Only on the west side of the dateline. Hurricanes until they cross that.

    • W7ENK says:

      That’s half correct…

      A hurricane is any tropical cyclone with sustained winds in excess of 74 mph in the Atlantic, or in the North Pacific to the East of the International Date Line.

      Comparable storms in the North Pacific on the West side of the International Date Line are called typhoons.

      South of the Equator in either the Pacific or in the Indian Ocean, they’re just called cyclones.

  4. W7ENK says:

    From what I understand — hearing from multiple people — they got quite the thunderstorm last night up North. From the North end of Seattle, Everett and up through Bellingham, lots of thunder and lightning, and some really heavy rain. There’s a video floating around, somewhere…

  5. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    What a dreary day. Had to briefly turn on the hit this morning.

    Mark, download the uWx app thumbs up for science!


  6. Well, for the third year in a row, the last day of August was the wettest of the month for me yesterday: 0.35 inches. That’s not a lot this time, though. My entire total was 0.63 inches. As well, it was a warm month with a 68.0F temperature. However, it’s a brand new month starting today- let’s see what September brings.

  7. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    Great sunset over Battle Ground tonight!

  8. WEATHERDAN says:

    It looks like an early end to Summer this year. Although we will still have a few more 80,s we might just finish with 21 days over 90 this year. In 1978 and 1985 we had cool wet Septembers and mild Octobers. Then we had cold Winters. Will this be a repeat? I haven’t a clue. Well we shall see. Today is our 69th consecutive day over 70 and our 76th consecutive day with a minimum of at least 50 which is a record. Oh well all good things must end sometime. Peace.

  9. JJ78259 says:

    Stray thunderstorm came to visit last night what a show! Huge rain drops. Today high of 90 low of 75 Weather Dan Weather all week here in San Antonio. It amazing how a little thunderstorm cam light up sky very impressive. This past spring we set the Texas Record for Hail Damage on April 12th a storm moved thru the city south of me and cut a swath right thru downtown. 4.5 inch hail hit the BMW dealership among everything else in its path for a grand total of 1.2 billion dollars damage. 301 BMW’s were totaled. The worst hail here since 1957. I watched the stom pass south that was the grand daddy of storms you can see the you tube of the aftermath quite impressive. A lot people got new cars this year!

  10. Paul D says:

    Better move those raindrops on the 7-day forecast to the beginning of Wednesday 🙂 Already raining in Hillsboro.

  11. Let’s see what kind of unusual late August/early September weather we could have, that’s on par with a Hawaiian hurricane. Remember the unseasonable storm that hit at the end of August last year? If I recall there were some very “winter-like” wind gusts reported with that one.

    Another option would be to have a chilly feast wind at the end of August. This has actually happened once way back in the early 20th century, I believe. Basically an October-like airmass out of Canada.

    • No “October-like” airmass coming from here this time but I do remember last year’s wet finish to the month: Over an inch of rain and a maximum temperature of just 59F. We could do it again this August, in a way: We have showers this morning, and It won’t take too much of amount to make it the wettest day of the month.

    • Paul D says:

      Looking forward to a “chilly feast wind” 🙂

    • I feel safe saying the showers at the beginning of the month that stalled and dumped nearly an inch on me will end up being the biggest rain of the month.

  12. Boydo3 N. Albany says:

    Are the brothers Mat and Josh playing chicken tonight? Or maybe just sipping on a little Old Crow?

  13. Josh "The Snowman" from Gladstone,OR says:

    Oh. The good old chicken de coup de chicken de poop?

    Yes, seems like Mark is a present day old Macdonald, but cuter. Oh boy. If I was someone that thought a certain way I would take him on a honeymoon to the big island of Hawaii. Just not in the next few days. EEEEKK!!!!

  14. High Desert Mat says:

    Well thanks Mark. Let’s hope the streak stays alive and no hurricanes “nail” the islands.

    But in all reality what we’re all wondering is, is that chicken coop of yours finally finished? I know I’ve seen pics but I honk they were of halfway done. Like project molasses maybe?

  15. Paul D says:

    Interesting info. Thanks Mark!

  16. Aleta-West Gresham says:

    First! 🙂

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