Hurricane Characteristics

Hurricanes are especially dangerous storms because they combine the triple threat of violent winds, torrential rains, and abnormally high waves and storm surge. Each of these factors alone can pose a serious threat to life and property, but together they are capable of inflicting a large loss of life and widespread destruction.

High Winds
Hurricane winds, especially when accelerated by terrain features, can destroy trees, vegetation, crops, as well as dwellings and other structures. Ridge tops and exposed locations down-slope from mountains are at greatest risk.

Heavy Rain and Flash Flooding
Heavy and prolonged rains can accompany all types of tropical cyclones, including hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical depressions. Even the weakest tropical depressions can bring torrential rains and flash flooding.

High Waves and Storm Surge
Large ocean waves may reach island shores while the storm is still several hundred miles away. As the hurricane nears the coastline, rapidly rising water levels from above-normal storm tides and high wind-driven waves will inundate coastal areas, erode beaches, and pound and undermine waterfront structures and highways.

Hurricane Season
None of our islands are immune to hurricanes, and hurricane season is from June through November. Some believe that the mountain ranges are protection from hurricanes, but this is not true. In comparison to the potential volume of a hurricane (about 50,000 feet to the top of the eye wall and perhaps 400 miles in diameter), the mountains are roughly equivalent to a speed bump.

It is not an issue of if a hurricane will impact Maui County, but simply a matter of when one will occur. With this in mind, knowledge and preparation are essential.