Hawaii's Hurricane History

Published: Aug. 12, 2007 at 5:12 PM HST
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The last time a category 4 hurricane hit Hawaii was 15 years ago when Hurricane Iniki swept over the islands.

The eye of the hurricane passed over Kauai on September 11, 1992. It caused over $1 billion in damage and six deaths. The hurricane also destroyed 1,400 homes and severely damaged over 5,000.

Oahu also experienced moderate damage from the storm.

Hurricane Iniki was the first hurricane to hit the state since Hurricane Iwa in 1982.

It remains the strongest hurricane in history to hit the Hawaiian Islands.

Other notable hurricanes that came through our state:

  • Hurricane Nina (1957): The category one hurricane formed south of Hawaii. Hurricane Nina continued to move north when it took a sharp turn to the west towards the Island chain. The hurricane did not actually hit land. At its closest approach, Nina was centered about 120 miles west-southwest of Kauai, but still created notable damage and dropped over 20 inches of rain. Oahu was also strongly affected by the storm, with moderate rains and 45 MPH winds.
  • Hurricane Dot (1959): This category four hurricane entered the south Pacific just south of Hawaii. Moving west-northwest on August 5 of that year, Dot abruptly changed directions and began traveling northwest towards Kauai. When Dot passed over Kauai on August 6, it had been downgraded to a category one storm, but still packed wind gusts over 100 MPH. The storm caused minor damage to Hawaii, Oahu and Kauai.
  • Hurricane Iwa (1982): At the time, this category one hurricane was the most damaging to hit Hawaii. It passed just west of Kauai, causing severe property damage, minor physical injuries and one death. Up to $250 million dollars in damage was created.
  • Hurricane Iniki (1992): This category four hurricane was the most devastating hurricane to hit Hawaii. Borne from El Nino, Iniki traveled on a west-northwest course and continued to strengthen. On September 11, the eye of the hurricane passed directly over Kauai, devastating the island. It caused over $1.8 billion in damage, and was responsible for six deaths.

Category four hurricanes can carry winds between 131 and 155 miles-per-hour. It can cause extreme damage, especially to things that aren't protected or reinforced. It can also bring down many reinforced wooden power poles, and can cause extensive damage to non-concrete roofs.

Considerable glass failures are to be expected due to flying debris and high pressure forces caused by the extreme wind gusts.

And many shrubs and trees will be defoliated or blown down, and category four hurricanes can cause major erosion to beach areas.