Hurricane Season 2019
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.
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.
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. Between August 22 & August 26, 2018 Hurricane Lane reached a category 5 storm. While it didn't landfall the speed slowed drastically while passing the islands and the outer rain bands of the storm hit the entire island chain rather hard. The Big Island had the most rain fall with 58 inches falling over the course of several days.
Currently we are monitoring Hurricane Erick and Tropical Storm Flossie which are both moving towards the island chain. Neither storm is expected to hit landfall. Erick is expected to pass south of the islands starting on Thursday bringing more rain, winds and rough shores. Flossie is expected to become a hurricane by Thursday and pass north of the islands later in the weekend, again bringing with it rain and winds.
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!!