From Hiki to Iniki: A look back at some of the tropical cyclones that have battered Hawaii

Since 1950, five hurricanes have battered the islands, leaving behind more than $3 billion in damage.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 2:20 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 6, 2023 at 2:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When it comes to hurricanes, Hawaii has had direct hits and near-misses.

Since 1950, five hurricanes have battered the islands, leaving behind more than $3 billion in damage.

Here’s a look back at some of the tropical systems that have hit ― or come close ― to our islands.

Hurricane Hiki (Aug, 12- 21, 1950)

In August 1950, Hurricane Hiki didn’t make a direct hit in the islands, but it did leave behind damage.

The storm was one of the wettest storms in U.S. history, dropping an estimated 52 inches of rain on Kauai’s Kanalohuluhulu ranger station and bringing winds of around 90 mph.

In 1950, weather expert R.H. Simpson told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, “If the path of that storm had been 100 miles further southwest, Oahu might well have experienced disastrous conditions. "

Hurricane Dot (Aug. 1-8, 1959)

Just weeks before Hawaii became a state, Hurricane Dot hit Kauai, toppling the island’s power lines and devastating its crops, telecommunications and even pressure pumps needed to supply water to homes and businesses.

To make matters worse, the Hanalei River flooded, causing the town of Hanalei to be temporarily cut off from the rest of the island. Oahu experienced heavy rains and high winds, too, that caused some roofs to blow off.

For more hurricane coverage, preparedness tips and a hurricane tracker, head to the HNN Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Iwa (Nov. 19- 25, 1982)

Hurricane Iwa hit Kauai’s south shore in 1982, causing significant damage.

About 500 people were left homeless, 120 were injured, 7,000 fled to shelters, and one seaman was killed.

The entire island of Kauai was left without power.

Oahu’s Waianae Coast, meanwhile, was battered by high surf and winds and homes were shredded into pieces.

At the time, Iwa was the costliest storm to hit Hawaii, with damage totaling $312 million.

Hurricane Iniki (Sept. 5- 13, 1992)

The most powerful hurricane in recorded history to strike Hawaii came to Kauai on Sept. 11, 1992.

The cyclone was a Category 4 hurricane on today’s scale, with wind gusts of up to 175 mph.

Six people died and more than 14,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Residents were without electricity for weeks, and the estimated damage was over $3 billion.

At the time of the hurricane, Director Steven Spielberg and 130 members of his cast and crew were filming the last day of the original “Jurassic Park.”

The crew safely waited out the storm in a hotel and captured footage from the storm that was included in the film.

Hurricane Iselle (July 31, 2014 - Aug. 9, 2014)

Iselle struck the Big Island in 2014 as a tropical storm.

Winds brought down invasive albizia trees in Puna which had lasting damage on homes and crops.

One person died, 200 homes and businesses were damaged, and overall damage was estimated at $148 million.

Hurricane Lane (Aug. 15-28, 2018)

Hurricane Lane never made landfall in Hawaii, but still dumped 58 inches of rain on the Big Island.

That made it one of the wettest storms to hit the US in recorded history.

The storm also brought massive surf and powerful gusts. On Maui, Lane’s strong winds downed trees and power lines, igniting brush fires that destroyed or damaged seven homes.

Hurricane Olivia (Sept. 1-4, 2018)

Hurricane Olivia was the first tropical cyclone to hit Maui in the modern era, striking as a tropical storm.

Homes and vehicles were washed away in a raging river in Honokohau Valley.

Hurricane Douglas (July 20-29, 2020)

Finally, Hurricane Douglas came within 30 miles of the islands, passing Kahuku at its closest point.

Fortunately, the Category 1 storm did not cause any major damage.