Hawaii Living: Weather

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Our guide to Hawaii's perfect weather and what you can expect when living here.

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It's one of the biggest reasons people come to Hawaii, either on vacation or to live. The weather here is often the very definition of perfect. It's great for dining outdoors, camping, hiking, jogging, and, of course, hitting the beach. We leave our windows open almost year-round to let in the breeze that keeps us cool.

Consistency

For many, perfect weather is all about consistency. Sure, I know that having "four seasons" of distinct weather sounds good on paper. But the reality of shoveling snow, raking up leaves, and dealing with sub-zero temperatures makes everyone long for Hawaii's consistently good tropical weather. Want to see the leaves change color in the autumn? Google it on your iThing while on a beach in Hawaii.


Go ahead and ask anyone in Hawaii what the temperature is today. It really doesn't matter what time of year it is, the answer is likely to be "in the low to mid 80's". That's using the Fahrenheit scale of course. Our non-American visitors will know 83 degrees Fahrenheit better as 28 degrees Celsius.

That's a normal day in Hawaii, at least at sea level. As you go up in elevation the temperature generally drops several degrees. Go high enough into the mountains of the Big Island and you'll find snow at certain times of the year.

During the summer months (June through Sept being the worst) you can expect hotter temperatures. Many summer days can go well into the high 80's, sometimes even into the low 90's. 2015 was a notable year for hot temperatures due to the El Nino In Hawaii effect. In the evening hours and during the night, expect temperatures to drop 10-15 degrees from those daytime highs. During cooler months (December through April) you may want a light jacket or sweater at night.

I've experienced life in Chicago with sub-zero temperatures that are so cold you can't start your car, or even scrape the ice off the door to get inside of it. I've also lived on the other side of the spectrum in Arizona where summer temperatures can exceed 120 degree Fahrenheit in the shade. Most places like that have a "nice time" of year that lasts for a few weeks or months. It's that time that you look forward to in order to get through the other 90% of the year. In Hawaii, it's pretty much always the nice time of year.

Ocean Temperatures

Just like with our air temperatures, ocean temperatures are also very consistent. They range from around 77 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 28 Celsius) depending on the time of year. Expect the coldest ocean temperatures around February through April while the hottest times hit between September through October.

Using the beaches and oceans is great year round so don't let 77F temperature worry you. I come from a land where I won't jump in the pool unless it's 88F or higher. But out here the humidity in the air means you won't walk out of the water and instantly dry via evaporation and thus you don't freeze when getting out. During the coldest times, it is sometimes a shock to the system to get in the water but your body will get used to it very fast.

Humidity

As I mentioned above, the humidity in Hawaii has a big impact on how things feel here. Humidity makes warmer temperatures feel even warmer. Sometimes that's good, other times it's unpleasant.


The average humidity levels in Hawaii range from 60-80%, but there are a lot of variables there. As it gets hotter in the day, humidity often drops so if it is humid in the morning it may not be later in the day. Since it rains here a lot, we could see days with levels of humidity that well exceed 80%. For example, during hurricane season we sometimes get days and days of rain that lead to humidity levels over 90%. That's not fun if it's also hot.

For a lot of people who are coming to Hawaii from a dryer climate, things often feel wet here. Your bed sheets might feel wet, your towel won't dry as fast as your used to, and you may sweat more. That's the humidity at work. A lot just depends on where you're at as well. For example, the windward side of the island (north & east sides) are usually much wetter than the leeward (west & south shore) sides.

After a couple of days it won't be as noticeable and you'll learn to move at a more relaxed pace. Why? Because rushing around on a hot and humid day is a great way to drench yourself in sweat. Once you really get used it, you realize that the humidity often feels good. No more dry skin to worry about and traveling to dryer parts of the mainland suddenly feels gross (I'm looking at you Arizona).

Wind

You don't have to be religious to consider the tradewinds in Hawaii a godsend. These tradewinds provide a near constant breeze over the islands. It's nature's air conditioning system. The wind general comes from the northeast and blows to the southwest. During that process the cooler, moisture filled air hits the mountains and drops a lot of rain on the windward side.


Now that the wind lost much of its moisture, the air that then passes over the leeward side is dryer and why that side will have less humidity. These winds are the key to Hawaii's perfect weather. They bring in fresh air, fresh rain, and keep us cool all at the same time.

Rain

I just covered how a lot of rain comes to Hawaii so let's talk about rain frequency now. It rains here a lot. If you're coming on vacation you'll see rain. If you're living here, you'll end up in the rain. It's a given. Sometime it rains for a few seconds, other times it rains for days on end. Sometimes you're neighbors house will get wet and yours will stay dry.

The wettest months run from October through March, with December and January leading the way. A lot will just depend on the island, where you're at on it, and time of the year. The rain is a good thing, it not only brings us fresh water to drink but also cleans the islands and makes them incredibly lush.

Don't let rain worry you. If it is raining where you're at, go drive to some place else and it will almost certainly be dry. It's easy to go find rain and even easier to go find some place dry. If it is raining all over, don't worry, there are plenty of things to do on a rainy day.

Hurricanes

The time to watch for hurricanes is generally between June and November. Want the truth about hurricanes in Hawaii or the state issued propaganda? The state will tell you that "hurricanes are rare". But they're not all that rare and haven't been rare for a while now.


To be fair, one that actually hits Hawaii and does major damage is rare. Although smaller hurricanes have hit Hawaii and caused minor damage, the last major hurricane to hit us was Hurricane Iniki in 1992. It hit on September 11th no less, making it the 911 before 911. It did around $3 billion in damages in 2015 dollars.

But that is rare. Of course, in 2015 we had some major El Nino In Hawaii effects kicking in and we saw three Category 4 Hurricanes in the Pacific all at the same time. That was a first ever event. While none directly impacted Hawaii, they all came pretty close. Hurricanes don't make for a good public relations situations when it comes to tourism so I always feel like this stuff gets glossed over in the brochures, but it's a serious threat. Add in global warming and the chances of a hurricane hitting Hawaii seems more and more likely.

Conclusion

Hawaii's weather is perfect virtually year round. We often don't need any air conditioning to keep us cool and we can swim the ocean even in the winter time. What more could you ask for? This is the reason you want to live here. It's a good reason. For more information, you should also read Hawaii Weather.
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Matt Anderson
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Ellen R
Joined: Jul 2016
Reviews: 90
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I would disagree about not needing air conditioning. Last year between August until early November it was boiling hot all day long with little or no relief at night. We bought a portable air conditioner that made it possible to sleep. Because electricity is so expensive we set the ac to run for just an hour.
Friends of ours had ac installed into their condo this spring because of the heat last summer. Be prepared to sweat.
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