HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHON2) — A study out of UH Manoa revealed new insights into 2018’s devastating storm on Kauai.

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The storm came with no warning at all and destroyed or damaged more than 500 homes. It also caused about $180 million worth of damage.

According to researchers from the school of ocean and earth science and technology, this was all brought on by a supercell thunderstorm that brought nearly 50 inches of rain. The supercell storm broke the U.S. record for rainfall in a 24-hour period.

Steven Businger, a professor in the UH Manoa Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and his team looked at data from a radar to determine what caused this tragic storm.

Looking at these data, is that the that there was a lot of spin or rotation, I think rotation is a better word for it in the air coming and hitting the mountains, and they’re steep… it made it more long lived and more resilient. And it helped explain why it was that so much water fell over the north side of Kauai.


When asked if a storm of this magnitude could happen again, Businger said “it very much can happen. And in fact, repeat with a very strong rain bomb if you want could easily happen in say Manoa Valley and impact the city of Honolulu.”

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UH officials said although supercell thunderstorms are the least common type of thunderstorm in Hawaii, they have the greatest likelihood of producing severe weather; that includes hail and even tornadoes. Click here for more information on the study of this supercell storm in Kauai, Hawaii.