The 8 eastern most islands of the Hawaiian Island Chain form the state of Hawaii: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Hawaii, Niihau and Kahoolawe. Among the more important cities are the capitol, Honolulu, which is located on Oahu, Hilo on Hawaii, Kahului on Maui, and Lihue on Oahu.
Hawaii is located 2,100 miles southwest of California, and is the only state located within the Tropics and the only state completely surrounded by an ocean. This tropical location influences the climate of the state of Hawaii tremendously, but the climate of Hawaii is also affected by the large mountains that are located on most of the islands, including mountain peaks that reach over 13,000 feet on Hawaii and 10,000 feet on Maui. The weather in Hawaii is also heavily influenced by the trade winds.
The trade winds circulate across the Hawaiian Islands in from the northeast, and are their heaviest from May through September. These trade winds often bring cloudy skies, although it’s typically only dense near the mountains and leeward lowlands. Showers are frequent but usually light and thunderstorms are rare. The trade winds also bring pleasant, fresh, warm air to the islands.
Significant storms occur most often in Hawaii between the months of October and March, and there may be as many as 7 or more big storms in any given year. Caused by cold fronts or low-pressure systems, these storms can bring heavy rain and winds. Tropical cyclones or hurricanes are possible, and 37 cyclones have hit the Hawaiian Islands since 1949, causing 13 deaths.
The variation in temperature from daytime high to nighttime low, and from coldest month to the warmest month is among the smallest of any state in the USA. The variation from high temperature to low on a given day in Hawaii is normally around 13 degrees, and the variation in temperatures from the warmest month of year (August) to the coolest (January) is less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit. However these differences are just for the areas that most tourists will visit, amazingly Hawaii can also experience snow on her highest mountains in the winter, with much colder weather than in the cities below.
While the temperatures are consistent, the amount of rain that falls in Hawaii isn’t. Hilo has received as many as 207 inches of rain in a year, and as few as 72 over the past 79 years. Honolulu saw extremes of 46 inches and 10 inches over a 62 year period, Kauai saw a low of 5 inches and a high of 48 inches over a single year and Kukui varied from 250 inches to 578 inches over 23 years.
Climate affects the economy in a number of ways. The consistent warmth of the weather in Hawaii makes it one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. The tourist season in Hawaii is long, both between mid-December and mid-April, and again in June through August when kids are out of school. Agriculture is also important to Hawaii’s economy, with sugar cane and pineapple flourishing in the Hawaii weather and serving as their leading food exports.
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