Hawaii & Alaska
Two views from the Rainbow Falls overlook near Hilo, Hawai?i--left shows typical flow; right shows the early impact of Hurricane. Left: Ryan McClymont, Right: Gordon Tribble, USGS.

HI - New Research Reveals how Hurricane Lane Brought Fire and Rain to Hawaiian Islands

Newswise — Hurricane Lane was an impactful event for the Hawaiian Islands.

In August 2018, over a four-day period, the island of Hawai'i received an average of 17 inches of rainfall, with a four-day single-station maximum of 57 inches, making Hurricane Lane the wettest tropical cyclone ever recorded in Hawai'i. A recently published study, led by University of Hawai'i at Mānoa researchers, details the compounding hazards--fire and rain--produced by the storm.

"In this study we document what we believe to be the first instance of a hurricane causing both heavy rainfall and contributing to multiple instances of fire simultaneously," said Alison Nugent, lead author of the study and assistant professor of Atmospheric Sciences in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).

A team of UH Mānoa and East-West Center scientists analyzed multiple aspects of the storm's meteorology and climatology, the environmental conditions leading up to the storm, and documented the associated societal impacts.

They found that land-use characteristics and preceding moisture conditions exacerbated fire hazard, and both fire and rain severity were influenced by the hurricane environment and local topographic features. Conditions at the edge of the storm resulted in dry windy weather conducive to fire, while closer to the storm center, the incredibly moist atmosphere lifted by Hawai'i's mountains brought intense, long-lasting rainfall.

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