Hawaii Storms – How Bad Does the Weather Get?

Hawaii Storms
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Hawaii Storms – How Bad Does the Weather Get?

Are you worried about Hawaii storms? Many people watch radars as they plan their trips to the islands, especially during hurricane season or if they’re making big outdoor plans. But it can be hard to tell how bad the weather gets in Hawaii, and how often storms come through. 

The good news is that it’s almost always sunny and beautiful here, with some areas experiencing passing showers (especially during the winter month). Still, it’s good to know about Hawaii storms so that you know what to expect – and how to prepare – for your vacation. 

Basics of Hawaii Weather

Hawaii enjoys a warm, tropical climate with lots of sunshine. That’s one of the many reasons people love visiting! During summer months, expect temperatures in the high 80s, while it’s a few degrees cooler during the winter. 

Hawaii is so warm because it’s surrounded by warm ocean water. Sea temperatures are far more consistent than those of large land masses, so Hawaii’s surrounding oceans help keep the islands steady and warm year-round. This means there are few Hawaii storms to worry about.

Windward and Leeward Sides

If you’ve ever visited Hawaii before, you may have noticed how localized rain is. Hawaii has many microclimates that create different weather patterns in various areas. Windward sides of the islands (the northeastern sides) see the most rainfall, while the Leeward (western) sides are dryer. 

So, on Oahu, you may find cloudier conditions or more rainfall in Waimanalo than you would in Waianae. 

Trade Winds

Visitors are also quick to notice the cool, comfortable breezes typically blowing across the islands. These are called tradewinds. They help keep things from getting too humid and sticky. That’s why it can feel so nice in the shade – you don’t have humidity bogging you down. 

Of course, typical weather patterns are often interrupted, and that’s when Hawaii may see storms. 

Storms in Hawaii
Storms in Hawaii

How Often Does it Storm in Hawaii?

Storms are rare in Hawaii. Residents may go a year or more without seeing a lightning strike or hearing thunder. And hurricanes are even more rare. Since 1950, five hurricanes or tropical storms have caused substantial damage to the islands. 

And when a storm system does come through, it is still quite localized. Neighboring islands – or even neighboring towns – may be perfectly sunny and clear while storms rage not far away. 

Types of Hawaii Storms

When you imagine storms in Hawaii, you probably think of hurricanes, and that is definitely a big concern for residents and vacationers. But there are other storms that cause a great deal of damage as well. 

Ahead, we’ll highlight the most common types of Hawaii storms (in no particular order) so you can stay weather-aware while vacationing happily. 

Hurricanes & Tropical Storms

Hawaii hurricane
Hawaii hurricane

Let’s start with Hawaii’s most buzzed-about type of storm: hurricanes. These tropical cyclones form over warm waters and carry incredible power. 

While Hawaii experiences many hurricane scares, few actually make landfall here. This is largely thanks to the easterly trade winds that push storms away from the islands. Also, Hawaii is such a small place in a vast ocean, so it’s a tiny target for hurricanes to hit. 

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. This is still a wonderful time to visit Hawaii. Still, you may want to pay attention to the weather in case a storm system is coming, though. Sometimes, nearby hurricanes could bring heavy rainfall or high winds, even if the storm doesn’t directly impact the islands. 

Kona Storms in Hawaii

Local weather reporters and everyday residents often talk about “Kona Winds.” These are south-western winds that replace the trade winds that Hawaii typically sees. Kona means “leeward,” so when these kinds of breezes come through, they’re flowing in from the dry side of the islands. 

Kona winds often bring with them rain and sometimes thunderstorms. Flash flooding and landslides are a big concern during Kona lows. 

Kona storms are most likely from October through April and are more likely to interrupt your vacation plans than hurricanes. They are more common, long-lasting, and widespread than most hurricanes. But, they still just represent just a few days out of each year. 

Thunder Storms in Hawaii

In Hawaii, thunderstorms often happen with Kona lows but occasionally come in when hurricanes are nearby. Other changes in weather patterns can also cause thunderstorms to blow into the islands.

Thunder and lightning are rare here, and they don’t typically come out of nowhere. They will be part of a larger system that is often predicted in advance. 


With heavy rains comes the risk of flooding, which should definitely be something you want to stay aware of in Hawaii. 

Landslides can cause roads to close or hiking trails to become impassable. Always heed warnings and stay aware of any changing weather conditions, whether there are storms in Hawaii or simply spotty rainfall. 

One of the greatest dangers you’ll face during your Hawaii vacation could be flash flooding. If you are hiking near streams or rivers, or swimming in waterfalls, you must be aware of the risk of flash flooding. Any uphill rain will bring the risk of flash floods – and they really do happen in a flash

Where you are swimming or hiking could be bright and sunny, but the rain and water from upslope could quickly turn a relaxing day into peril. 

Don’t swim if there are dark clouds above the mountains or if there’s been recent rainfall. Listen to the flow of water, even if it seems calm and peaceful. And don’t hike in restricted or keep-out areas. 

Strong Winds

Hawaii sees strong winds for various reasons. The beloved tradewinds can even become hazardous, especially if you’re out on the ocean. Kona systems can bring high winds, and we often see windy conditions during near-miss hurricanes. 

You should stay aware of winds if you have any ocean activities planned, whether that’s snorkeling, swimming, or boating. Check in with lifeguards before entering the water, and try snorkeling in the morning for the calmest conditions. 

Many residents fear windy conditions because they can cause wildfires to spread incredibly fast. Drought conditions and high winds are the perfect storm for wildfires in Hawaii, so be sure to stay tuned to local updates about road closures and evacuation warnings during breezy, dry days. 


Tsunamis are long, large waves that occur when there has been an earthquake or volcanic eruption under the sea. These systems have had huge, deadly effects on coastal areas, including Hawaii. 

In 1946, 1960, and 1975, tsunamis devastated Hilo on Hawaii Island, and claimed numerous lives. Hilo Bay’s unique geographical situation makes it most susceptible to tsunamis, but the rest of Hawaii remains prepared for a similar disaster as well. 

There are typically official warnings for tsunamis, though you should also understand the warning signs yourself. If you hear a loud rumble from the sea, feel an earthquake beneath you, or see a noticeable rise or fall in the ocean, you should head to higher ground. 


Did you know that Hawaii experiences multiple earthquakes each day? These are almost always localized to the active volcanoes on Hawaii Island. Most go unnoticed, but residents and visitors occasionally feel the seismic activity’s rumble. 

A couple of earthquakes have caused damages and death in Hawaii over the decades. Landslides, property damage, and tsunamis are all risks when a strong earthquake occurs. 


Hawaii averages less than one tornado per year, so this isn’t a storm that you have to worry too much about during your vacation. All the tornados that have occurred in Hawaii since 1950 have been either F0 or F1 storms, and there have been no deaths from them. 

However, tornados hitting Wahiawa, Oahu, and Kona, Hawaii Island, caused about $2.5 million in damages in 1971. 

Stay aware of tornado warnings if you’re in the midst of storms in Hawaii.


Snow on Mauna Loa
Snow on Mauna Loa

Yes, it snows in Hawaii, and sometimes there are even blizzards! The mountain summits on Hawaii Island see snowfall nearly every year, with a blizzard warning every few years. Very occasionally, Maui’s Haleakala will also get a little bit of snow. 

But the snow is only at the highest points of these summits – nowhere near the beaches and hiking trails where you’ll spend your vacation. 

Access to mountain peaks will close when there is snow on the road, high winds, or low visibility. So, snowy conditions during your vacations could keep you from stargazing from atop Mauna Kea. 

Preparing for Hawaii Storms

Hawaii residents typically keep a stockpile of goods ready in case of an emergency. Storms and wind can knock out power, make roads impassable, make water undrinkable, or simply make people want to stay home. 

As a visitor, you’ll want to make sure you know your hotel’s emergency plan and don’t stray out of cell phone reception or away from your group if there is a risk of Hawaii storms. Understand that evacuations may be necessary, flights may get delayed or canceled, and activities won’t go on as planned. 

Thankfully, the threat of storms is rare in Hawaii, but it’s always good to be aware and prepared. 

Planning Your Vacation Around Hawaii’s Weather

Now that you know all about Hawaii storms, you’re ready to plan a vacation that’s safe and enjoyable! Here are a few key things to know about weather and vacation planning:

  • Don’t try to plan your vacation around weather patterns. Storms are rare in Hawaii and can’t be predicted far in advance.
  • Be aware of the weather risks in Hawaii, but understand that they aren’t a looming threat over the islands. 
  • If rain or storms affect your vacation plans, stay flexible and positive. A rainy day during your Hawaii vacation is likely better than a sunny day back at your office. 

Want more help planning your Hawaii vacation? Hawaii Aloha Travel is ready to help. We can provide all-inclusive Hawaii vacation packages, ala carte activities, and a range of travel options for every kind of visitor. We can’t wait to see you in the islands!