It’s hurricane season in Hawaii, and the 2016 season is in full-swing. In fact, currently, we’re watching Tropical Storm Darby, as it approaches Hawaii Island and Maui County.

“A direct impact on the Big Island and Maui is a distinct possibility this weekend,” forecasters at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center told the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

Although impact from a tropical storm like Darby is typically less damaging than impact from a hurricane, Tropical Storm Darby is still likely to bring damaging winds, extremely high surf, and possibly flooding.

What does all this mean for you, the Hawaii visitor? It means you need to know what to do in the event of a hurricane in Hawaii

1. Become a Meteorologist for a Bit: We aren’t suggesting you go back and get a college degree in meteorology (although, that would be pretty cool!). Instead, keep abreast of the current weather conditions and make sure you know the different weather terms. For example, a hurricane “watch” means you have 48 hours to prepare for a storm. A hurricane “warning” means conditions are likely to become possibly damaging in 36 hours.

2. Put Your Hotel Concierge to Good Use: Your hotel will have a plan in place for all guests, in the event of a hurricane in Hawaii. Same goes for your rental car company, tour companies, and any other visitor-priority company/venue in Hawaii. Even so, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with hotel procedures and evacuations, should weather conditions worsen. If you have a Hawaii activity planned through a tour company like Hawaii Aloha Travel, for example, call ahead to make sure your activity is still on-schedule (although most companies will give you a courtesy call if anything changes).

surfers surfing big waves

Photo: Anthony Quintano

Although surfers love high surf, even when it's the result of an approaching storm, it's best to stay out of the water if there is a high surf warning.

3. Check-in with Your Airline: Best to do this BEFORE you head to the airport because there are few worse experiences than being stuck in an airport all day. It may take a while to get a “live” body on the phone, but it’s worth asking about delays/cancellations as early as possible. Because most airports have meteorologists on-staff, you will likely get the very latest weather information.

4. Stay Out of the Ocean: All big storms in and around Hawaii bring high surf with them, so it’s best to stay out of the water at all times, during a hurricane watch or warning. Even if the water looks OK, don’t be fooled.

5. Tell Someone Where and How You Are: Oftentimes, hurricanes in Hawaii make the national news, so you may have folks back home wondering how you’re doing. Instead of making them guess, let loved-ones elsewhere know how you’re doing and where you plan to be during a hurricane in Hawaii. That way, should they have trouble contacting you after the storm passes, they know where to call.

One thing many people forget when a storm approaches is medication. Make sure you have enough medication on-hand for at least a week.

6. Be Prepared for Anything: Fill up your gas tank and make sure you have food, water and medication that last up to a week. Since Hawaii is isolated from the mainland, restocking supplies could take a while. So, it’s important you have everything you need on-hand, just in case.

Chances are, you won’t be in Hawaii when a hurricane makes landfall, but storms can be unpredictable and change course at any time. So, it’s important you heed our tips for weathering a possible storm. After all, safety REALLY does come first!

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