HONOLULU (KHON2) — The summer/autumn storm season has arrived in Hawaiʻi; and everyone in Hawaiʻi’s emergency response fields are prepping for the worst, just in case.
But what types of storms come through Hawaiʻi?
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Being located in the mid-Pacific but north of the equator, the Hawaiian Archipelago falls below the Tropic of Cancer making it a tropical region.
While tropical regions are not the only places to get hit with summer/autumn storms, these regions do have a greater proportion of storms that come through.
In order to find out what types of storms hit Hawaiʻi, we turned to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, also known as NOAA.
According to NOAA, Hawaiʻi is host to tropical cyclones. But what are tropical cyclones?
NOAA said that ‘tropical cyclone’ is a generic term used for hurricanes and typhoons and that hurricanes and typhoons are the same thing.
Hurricanes are a “rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originate over tropical or subtropical water and has a closed, low-level circulation”, according to NOAA.
Wind speeds are an important indicator of what type of storm is coming. NOAA said that once a tropical cyclone reaches “maximum sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or higher, it is then classified as a hurricane, typhoon or tropical cyclone, depending upon where the storm originates in the world”.
Geography is a major factor as well.
For instance, in the North Atlantic, central North Pacific and eastern North Pacific, the concept of hurricane is prevalent and used by civilians and scientists.
The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a typhoon since its on the other side of the international date line from Hawaiʻi.
Meanwhile, storms that occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, or below the equator from Hawaiʻi, are called by the generic term tropical cyclone. This term is used regardless of the strength of the wind associated with the weather system.
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So, that’s the long and the short of it. Hawaiʻi occasionally becomes host to hurricanes but not typhoons since those storms are on the other side of the International date line from us.