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Hawaiian Weather & Climate
The weather in Hawaii is very consistent, with only a few degrees of change in temperatures throughout the year. This is due to the year-round warm ocean surface temperatures, which keeps the overlying atmosphere warm as well. Hawaii really only has 2 seasons, the summer months ("Kau") May to October and the winter months (Ho'oilo) November to April. The average day-time temperature at sea level in summer is 85F or 29.4C and the average day-time winter temperature is 78F or 25.6C. The night-time temperatures are approximately 10F or 5C lower than daytime.

The islands of Hawaii are located south of the Tropic of Cancer and the sun is more intense than you may be used to. It can take only 20 minutes of exposure to receive a burn so protection is extremely important, especially for children and young adults. It may take up to 24 hours to see the full effects of overexposure to the sun. The two most common types of sunburns are first degree burns and second degree burns. When a burn is severe, accompanied by a headache, chills or a fever, seek medical help right away. If you do get sun burnt please be sure to protect your skin from the sun while it heals and thereafter!

Lahaina Noon - In the tropics, there are two days each year when the sun is exactly overhead at local noon, for that one shining moment Sunday, when the sun is directly overhead, things tall and straight will cast absolutely no shadows. Lahaina Noon occurs only once on the tropic of Cancer, 23.5 degrees north of the equator, on the first day of summer. It occurs only once on the tropic of Capricorn, 23.5 degrees south of the equator, on the first day of winter. For all other locations in the tropics, this event occurs twice a year. Since there was no convenient single term for "that day when the sun is exactly overhead at local noon," the Bishop Museum planetarium sponsored a contest ten years ago to select a name for this event. "Lahaina Noon" was the winner. "Lahaina" means "cruel sun" in Hawaiian.

Tips for avoiding sunburn:

  • Try to limit outdoor activities between 11am and 3pm.
  • If you plan on sunbathing try and get some sun before your visit. The Hawaiian sun is very dangerous to pale skin. On your first day sunbathing only expose your skin for an hour and then add a half hour each day.
  • Beware of cloudy days. You can still burn even on a cloudy day.
  • Wear a good pair of sun glasses and some kind of protection on your head, the looser the better.
  • Use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15, preferably SPF 30 for children, don't forget to make sure it's waterproof. It will take approximately an ounce of sun block will effectively cover your entire body.
  • Apply sun block at least 15 to 30 minutes before venturing out into the sun and re-apply at least every two hours especially if you have been swimming or perspiring.
  • Use sun blocks with a higher protection factor on areas like the tip of your nose, your ears, the tops of your feet, and your shoulders.
  • Do not use sun block on your lips. Instead, use only sun protection products designed specifically for lips.
  • Protect your children. Keep them from excessive sun exposure when the sun is strongest and apply sunscreen liberally and frequently to children 6 months of age and older.
  • Do not use sunscreen on children under 6 months of age. Parents with children under 6 months of age should severely limit their children's sun exposure.
  • Sand and water reflect UV radiation, which means being in the shade under a beach umbrella does not provide complete protection

The average rainfall for coastal areas in Hawaii is between 25 and 30 inches per year, this increases as you move inland with some areas like Mt. Waialeale on Kauai receives more than 30ft or 10m of rain annually. The rainy season begins on the first of October and lasts until the end of March. Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts look forward to the rainy season on the Hawaiian Islands during which sea turtles lay and hatch their eggs. The Big Island of Hawaii is world renowned for its abundant sea turtle population. Year round they are frequently seen swimming in the coastal waters where they feed on abundant plant life.

The Hawaiian waters temperatures are inviting year-round, averaging 74F or 23 C and reaching close to 80F or 26C in the summer months. The coastline is blessed with pristine white sand beaches and perfect, glassy waves. Hawaii is well known for its world-class surfing, body boarding, body surfing, great swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Seasonal high surf occurs on each of the islands, typically, shorelines facing North, East and West receive high surf during winter months, and South, Southeast and Southwest facing shores receive high surf during summer months. Large powerful waves are generated by winds and storms at sea sometimes thousands of miles from the Hawaiian Islands. There is no tsunami season and waves of destruction could reach our shores from anywhere in the Pacific, on any day. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Ewa Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, provides warnings for teletsunamis to most countries in the Pacific Basin as well as to Hawaii and all other US interests in the Pacific outside of Alaska and the US West Coast.

During winter months November to April snow can fall on both Mauna Kea (White Mountain) and Mauna Loa (Long Mountain) on the Big Island of Hawaii. Big Island residents and visitors look forward to those times when snow does fall and people visit Mauna Kea to ski, snowboard or just play in the snow. February and March are the best months for good snow and falls can accumulate to a few meters deep. There are no ski lifts to take you up the mountain, which is over 13,500 feet high, so you must rent a 4WD vehicle or hire a guide. Skiers take turns being the driver up a road that also serves several observatories at the summit. Some residents will sometimes fill their pick-up trucks with snow and take it back down to Hilo so everyone can enjoy the snow. At the summit, you have an incomparable, unforgettable 360 degree view - Mauna Kea's moonscape terrain, the lush tropical vegetation below, and the surrounding ocean.

From the first of June to the end of November each year we face the risk of hurricanes churning across the Pacific from the West coast of Mexico. Most of them miss Hawaii, but when they hit the islands they leave behind widespread damage and even death. Hurricanes are tropical cyclones in which winds reach sustained speeds of 74 miles per hour or more, and blow around a relatively calm center--the eye of the hurricane. Every year, these violent storms bring destruction to coastlines and islands in their erratic path.  Visit the Central Pacific Hurricane Center website for current information