How Often Do Hurricanes Hit Hawaii?

CPHC predicts a slightly busier-than-normal hurricane season for 2016


Hawaii rarely is hit with a hurricane, but meteorologists are predicting a slightly busier-than-normal season in 2016 yet one that is far less active than last year's season, which was the busiest on record.

While the Central Pacific region typically gets fewer hurricanes than the Southeastern US and Caribbean, tropical storms and hurricanes do occasionally hit the region.

Planning a getaway to Hawaii? Here's what you should know about hurricane season.

When is hurricane season? The Central Pacific hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, peaking in July and August. Note that the peak for the Pacific hurricane season is earlier than that of the Atlantic basin.

What does a typical hurricane season look like? Based on historical weather records, the Central Pacific basin will typically experience four or five tropical cyclones each year, including tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

Historically, the busiest hurricane years have coincided with the El Nino cycle. The 1992 and 1994 seasons were both El Nino years and both had 11 storms, the most since 1971.

How often do hurricanes hit Hawaii? Hawaii has been directly hit by hurricanes only three times since 1950, though the region has experienced 147 tropical cyclones over the same period. The last time a major hurricane hit Hawaii was category-4 Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Before that, the last major storm to hit the islands was Hurricane Iwa in 1982.

In 2014, it looked like Hawaii might experience two back-to-back hurricanes, but the first turned into Tropical Storm Iselle and the second, Hurricane Julio, missed the state altogether.

The 2015 hurricane season in the Pacific was the most active on record, with 15 storms forming. Last year's busy season was blamed on a strong El Niño, which is now moving into an La Niña weather pattern.

What does it mean for my vacation plans? Statistically, the chances of a hurricane or tropical storm hitting Hawaii during your visit are very slim. Still, there are choices you can make to lower the risk of a hurricane disrupting your vacation. For example, if you're traveling during hurricane season, and especially during the peak period, you might consider buying travel insurance.

How can I stay on top of hurricane warnings? If you're traveling to a hurricane-prone destination, download the Hurricane app from the American Red Cross for storm updates and a slew of helpful features.

What do experts say about hurricane season 2016? Central Pacific Hurricane Center meteorologists have predicted four to seven tropical cyclones in the Pacific during the 2016 season.