Figure 2. Tracks of all tropical cyclones (tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) to pass within 100 miles of the Hawaiian Islands, 1949 - 2014. Hurricanes approaching from the east typically fall apart before they reach Hawaii due to the cool waters and dry air that lie to the east of the islands. Only two named storms approaching from the east have hit the islands since 1949, an unnamed 1958 tropical storm and Tropical Storm Iselle of 2014, which hit the Big Island. Hurricanes approaching from the south represent the biggest danger to the islands, due to the warmer waters and more unstable air present to the south. The only two major hurricanes to have affected the islands since 1949, Hurricane Iniki of 1992 and Hurricane Dot of 1959, both came from the south. Image credit: NOAA/CSC.
Hawaii's hurricane history
by Dr Jeff Masters, Weather Underground, October 16, 2014 (excerpt)
Tropical storms and hurricanes are rare in the Hawaiian Islands, but 2014 is one of their most active years on record. Tropical Storm Iselle made a direct hit on August 8, Hurricane Julio passed just to the north of the islands a few days later, bringing high surf, and now Hurricane Ana threatens to cause more trouble. Since 1949, the Hawaiian Islands have received a direct hit from just two hurricanes--Dot in 1959, and Iniki in 1992. Both hit the island of Kauai. Only two tropical storms have hit the islands since 1949--an unnamed 1958 storm which hit the Big Island, and Tropical Storm Iselle, which made landfall along the southeast shore of Hawaii's Big Island on August 8, 2014 with 60 mph winds. On average, between four and five tropical cyclones are observed in the Central Pacific every year. This number has ranged from zero, most recently as 1979, to as many as eleven in 1992 and 1994. August is the peak month, followed by July, then September. A brief summary of the three most significant hurricanes to affect Hawaii in modern times:
September 1992: Hurricane Iniki was the strongest, deadliest, and most damaging hurricane to affect Hawaii since records began. It hit the island of Kauai as a Category 4 on September 11, killing six and causing $2 billion in damage.
November 1982: Hurricane Iwa was one of Hawaii's most damaging hurricanes. Although it was only a Category 1 storm, it passed just miles west of Kauai, moving at a speed of nearly 50 miles per hour (80 km/h). Iwa killed one person and did $250 million in damage, making it the second most damaging hurricane to ever hit Hawaii. All the islands reported some surf damage along their southwest facing shores, and wind damage was widespread on Kauai.
August 1959: Hurricane Dot entered the Central Pacific as a Category 4 hurricane just south of Hawaii, but weakened to a Category 1 storm before making landfall on Kauai. Dot brought sustained winds of 81 mph with gusts to 103 mph to Kilauea Light. Damage was in excess of $6 million. No Dot-related deaths were recorded.
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