There are a lot of different weather phenomena that occur out here in the South Pacific; the most intimidating and most asked about by visitors to the islands of Hawaii are hurricanes. But, do hurricanes ever hit Hawaii and how can we anticipate and prepare for any inbound severe weather like a hurricane on vacation?
The good news is that hurricanes are extremely rare in Hawaii – but they have occurred. However, there are ways to educate yourself to ensure you will still have a fun and safe vacation!
Do Hurricanes Ever Hit Hawaii?
Hurricanes, while rare, do hit the Hawaiian islands; however, there are ways that experts have been able to determine approximately when the state is more vulnerable to this type of severe weather, which includes rain, wind and swell.
The hurricane season in Hawaii is estimated to be from June to November (before the rainy season on the islands and in Maui specifically). Last year the National Weather Service estimated that season would be less intense than the ones previous. What a less-intense hurricane season potentially means is that the islands will only encounter tropical storms.
The hurricane season in Hawaii doesn’t just mean increased chances of hurricane storms impacting the islands; it also means that the swell is coming from the south which is why we see lots of great surfing, kiteboarding, and water sport competitions in the summer months!
More often, a passing hurricane will actually create a stagnant weather environment surround the west coast of Maui, making the sea and wind extremely calm, which is perfect weather for snorkeling and ocean activities.
Hawaii has many different weather and ecological seasons that are different from the mainland U.S. We track the year by monitoring where the waves are building, what animals are migrating to our islands (like whale season), and, of course, which storms we can expect throughout the months. While the Hawaiian islands don’t get typically get snow we still have many different seasons throughout the year.
Is Hawaii Expecting Another Hurricane?
There hasn’t been a hurricane that has affected Hawaii since 2018; however, the last major hurricane was long before that in 1992. Hurricane ‘Iniki unfortunately directly impacted Kauai, causing many damages.
While this weather phenomenon is rare it serves to be prepared should we encounter severe weather and/or another hurricane. The best option is to leave island should there be a report of severe weather; if that is not an option for you– the next best thing would be to monitor the local weather radios and stations and make sure that you are away from any coastlines and flood areas. NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) will have the most accurate weather reports and updates for the islands.
With all of that being said, it is highly unlikely that you will encounter a hurricane while in Hawaii; tropical storms are much more likely to occur or less destructive weather like cyclones, many of these being localized in particular areas of the island, meaning there could be rain on the east side of Maui, and sunshine on the West side of Maui.
When is the Best Time to Travel to Hawaii?
As mentioned, hurricanes are more likely to occur in the Hawaiian islands between the months of June to November and go hand in hand with the South summer swells. Making sure that you are vigilant and aren’t venturing to high surf areas is another great way of staying safe and working around the weather conditions at the time of your stay. Guided tours are always a great option to ensure the locations you are snorkeling or doing other activities are safe and guided by locals who are monitoring the weather and conditions on a daily basis.
However, if you are wondering when the best time to travel to Hawaii is for you there are a few things to note! Other than hurricane season the estimated “rainy season” for most of Hawaii is from November to March; this is also when the whales migrate to Hawaii and raise their calves.
If you are looking to avoid hotter weather during your vacation, you might want to travel during the winter or in the early spring months. However, if you are looking for an almost guaranteed trip filled with blue skies every day; your best bet is to visit during the summer months!
No matter when you plan on visiting Hawaii you will experience tropical weather, amazing ecology, and fun activities around the entire state.
It's a good practice to monitoring the local weather no matter where to travel to and have confidence the tour operators and local businesses will keep you informed if there are any weather changes that will affect your visit so you can adjust your plans if need be.
In the mean time, start planning your dream Maui vacation!