By virtue of its Maui landfall, Olivia is one for the history books

By virtue of its Maui landfall, Olivia is one for the history books

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tropical Storm Olivia made history Wednesday.

It wasn't the strongest storm to ever hit the islands or the wettest (at least not yet).

Instead, it's special because of where it made landfall — on Maui.

Central Pacific Hurricane Center forecasters say before Olivia, no other tropical cyclone had made landfall on Maui since as far back as the 1950s, when official record-keeping started.

Of course, over the years there have been a number of close calls.

And meteorologists are quick to point out that there's no telling how many hurricanes or tropical storms made landfall before official records started.

One candidate for a previous landfall: A major hurricane that devastated the Big Island and Maui in 1871.

A team of Hawaii researchers studied Hawaiian-language newspapers to determine the extent of the damage from that hurricane, publishing an article on the disaster in the American Meteorological Society's journal earlier this year.

The newspaper accounts documented a hurricane that leveled Hana, Wailuku and Lahaina, along with Kohala on the Big Island.

The journal's authors looked at the scale of the destruction from that hurricane to conclude it was a Category 3, packing winds up to 129 mph.

"No one living in Hawaii today witnessed the destruction visited on the islands of Hawaii and Maui in the 1870s. As a result of this long absence of hurricane impacts, a number of myths have arisen such as 'the volcanoes protect us,' 'only Kauai gets hit,' or 'there is no Hawaiian word for hurricane,'" the study's authors wrote. "It is a fact that there is a real threat of hurricane landfall for all the islands of Hawaii."

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