For those guests of ours traveling to Hawaii June through November, we want to share with you some information about Hurricane season, specifically as it relates to us on the Big Island.
Virtually every storm system approaching Hawaii from the east since 1950 eventually weakened to a tropical storm or depression by the time it reached the islands. This included a large majority of those migrating from the eastern Pacific basin.
Dating to 1950, there is no record of a hurricane landfalling on the Big Island of Hawaii. On August 7, 2014 Tropical Storm Iselle became only the second tropical storm, and the strongest, to landfall on the Big Island since 1950. The only other storm to do so was in 1958. Of course, in the vast Pacific Ocean, even the Big Island represents a pretty small target for the center of a tropical cyclone. There are several reasons why this happens so often.
Drier, more stable air from the subtropical high to the northeast of Hawaii eventually inhibits thunderstorms from persisting and remaining clustered near the cyclone's center. Wind shear (the change in wind speed and/or direction with height) is typically stronger near the Hawaiian islands, acting to displace thunderstorms from the cyclone's center. Cooler sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific waters to the east of the Big Island of Hawaii keep the air somewhat cooler above it, increasing the stability of the atmosphere, making it less susceptible to forming and maintaining thunderstorms.
Of course, this doesn't mean every single storm will do that in the future. This is the reality of a meteorological rule of thumb.
August is the peak month for tropical cyclones in the central Pacific basin, chalking up twice as many (74) as September (37) from 1971-2013, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
The Big Isand of Hawai‘i is not immune to hurricanes but thanks to its large volcanic mountains, Mauna Loa and Muana Kea, they help obstruct approaching storms, diverting them around the island which means we may get rain and wind, but in a much more subdued than one would expect.
As in any travel situation be sure to monitor the airports for delays to flights and let your innkeeper know if you may be late. It's often a good idea to call or email and get the local status of the weather. The old saying, the calm before the storm certainly rings true. It's often a great time to get a hike in as the weather is usually nice right before a storm!!