The Weather in Hawaii

Rainbow Over Honolulu
••• Rainbow Over Honolulu. Flickr/Kyle Nishioka

Whenever potential travelers to Hawaii are surveyed, their first questions are often the same - "How's the weather in Hawaii?", or specifically by month such as "How's the weather in Hawaii in March or November?"

Most of the time, the answer is pretty easy - Hawaii weather is lovely almost every day of the year. After all, Hawaii is considered by many to be the closest thing to paradise on earth - for good reason.

The Seasons in Hawaii

This is not to say that Hawaii weather is the same every day. Hawaii has a normally drier season during the summer months (May to October), and a rainier season which generally runs during the winter (from November until March).

Since Hawaii has a tropical climate, it is almost always raining somewhere on one of the islands, at any given time.

Usually if you wait a while, the sun will come out and often a rainbow will appear.

The Winds and Rain in Hawaii

Unlike the mainland, the prevailing winds that affect Hawaii move from east to west. The volcanic mountains trap the moist air from the Pacific. As a result, the windward sides (east and north) are cooler and wetter, while the leeward sides (west and south) are warmer and drier.

There is no better example of this than on the Big Island of Hawaii. On the leeward side there are places which see only five or six inches of rain a year, while Hilo, on the windward side, is the wettest city in the United States, with an average of over 180 inches of rain a year.

Volcanic Effects

The Hawaiian Islands are volcanically formed. Most of the islands have great altitude changes between their coasts and their highest points. The higher you go, the cooler the temperature becomes, and the greater the changes in climate you will find. In fact, it sometimes even snows at the summit of Mauna Kea (13,792 ft.) on the Big Island of Hawaii.

When traveling from the coast of the Big Island to the summit of Mauna Kea you pass through ten different climate zones. A visitor planning a trip to a higher altitude (such as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Saddle Road or Haleakala Crater on Maui) should bring a light jacket, sweater or sweatshirt.

Beach Weather

In most areas of Hawaii, however, the temperature ranges are much smaller. At the beaches the average daytime high in summer is in the mid-eighties, while in winter the average daytime high is still in the high seventies. The temperatures drop about ten degrees at night.

While Hawaii weather is usually as close to perfect as anywhere on earth, Hawaii is located in an area that is sometimes, though rarely, subject to severe weather conditions.

Hurricanes and Tsunamis

In 1992 Hurricane Iniki made a direct hit on the island of Kauai. In 1946 and 1960 tsunamis (large tidal waves caused by far-off earthquakes) devastated small areas of the Big Island of Hawaii.

During the years of El Niño Hawaii is often affected in a way unlike the rest of the United States. While most of the country suffers from frequent rain, Hawaii suffers from severe drought.

Vog

Only in Hawaii can you experience vog.

Vog is an atmospheric effect caused by emissions of the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

When sulfur dioxide gas is released, it reacts chemically with sunlight, oxygen, dust particles, and water in the air to form a mixture of sulfate aerosols, sulfuric acid and other oxidized sulfur species. Together, this gas and aerosol mixture produces a hazy atmospheric condition known as volcanic smog or vog.

While for most residents, vog is merely an inconvenience, it can affect people with chronic diseases such as emphysema and asthma, although everyone reacts differently. Potential visitors to the Big Island who suffer from these problems should consult with their doctors before their visit.

Problems Aside, the Weather is Often Near Perfect

These weather problems, however, are exceptions to the rule.

There is no better place on earth to visit where you can expect to find great weather almost any day of the year.

The rain that falls upon the windward sides of the islands produces some of the most beautiful valleys, waterfalls, flowers and plant life on earth. The sun the shines upon the leeward sides is why Hawaii has many of the top rated beaches, hotels, resorts and spas in the world. The temperate winter waters of Hawaii provide the perfect sanctuary for the humpback whales, who return each year to frolic with their young.

In Hawaii you can ride horseback amidst fields of taro in the lush Waipi'o Valley of the Big Island of Hawaii. You can see the sunset and experience what is considered the clearest view of the heavens on earth from the summit of Mauna Kea, albeit in near freezing temperatures. In Hawaii you can bathe in the tropic sun while laying on the beach at Ka'anapali on Maui or on the beach of Waikiki on Oahu.

You tell me ... what place on earth offers you such diversity? Only Hawaii.