Hurricane Lane drops 51.53″ of rain on Hawaii making for 3rd wettest US tropical cyclone

Written by on August 27, 2018 in North and South America, Tropical with 0 Comments

Hurricane Lane, like most Pacific hurricanes, passed close but not over the chain of pearls. He was always going to be a big rain maker but not wind maker. Certainly Lane delivered on the rain, so much so it he has entered the record books. When it rains, it rains, especially when it’s from a moisture loaded tropical cyclone.

Location and topography come together to make Hawaii a particularly wet place at times. Easterly trades make the windward eastern sides of the islands wettest and with the mountains climbing to nearly 14,000 ft, it’s considerably drier in the rain shallow on the islands western side.

When tropical cyclones approach, like Lane, they typically come in from the southeast, enhancing the easterlies and the rainfall in the typically wetter east sides.

Why do tropical cyclones almost always weaken considerably on approach to the islands? Waters cool as you get nearer.

Credit: Tropical Tidbits

Once a Category 5, Hurricane Lane took a sharp left turn just prior to making a direct hit on the Hawaiian Islands. Waters running 2-4C above normal about 500-1000 miles SSE of the islands aided Lane’s strength.

Credit: Tropical Tidbits

While the strongest winds missed with only 74 mph on land and 107 mph reported by an offshore buoy, the excessive rains didn’t. A tremendous push of moisture laden air slammed directly into the high mountains which rise almost immediately from the ocean which helped squeeze every last drop of moisture out of the atmosphere. How much exactly are we talking? Try 3 to 4 FEET of rain!

At the moment, Hurricane Lane is responsible for dropping 51.53 inches of rain over a 4-day stretch. This puts this system in 3rd place for delivering the most rainfall in a single tropical cyclone in US history. Top spot goes to Harvey of last year.


It’s also extremely close to the 2nd spot which is 52″ recorded during Hurricane Hiki on Hawaii back in 1950. When totals are confirmed, it’s plausible that Lane may in fact have exceeded the amount Hiki dropped in 1950 but as well as that, there is an additional 2-4 inches of rain expected to fall on the islands.



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