During a hurricane, there is a triple threat of damage from high winds, elevated surf due to storm surge, and flooding associated with heavy rains. One misperception around the state, is that a hurricane will only strike Kaua‘i and, therefore, residents of the other islands do not need to prepare. This is based on the impacts to Kaua‘i from Hurricanes Dot (1959), ‘Iwa (1982), and Iniki (1992). However, in 1957 damage occurred on O‘ahu from Hurricane Nina. Also, the National Weather Service has records that indicate a major cyclonic system (or hurricane) struck the islands of Hawai‘i and Maui in 1871. Looking at the tracks of a few recent hurricane systems clearly illustrates the need for all islands to prepare.

Expectations of Wind-Related Damage in Hawai‘i for Different Hurricane Categories (1 to 5)

74–95 No real damage to sturdy buildings. Damage to poorly constructed older homes or those with corrugated metal. Some tree damage such as palm fronds torn from the crowns. Examples: ‘Iwa (Kaua‘i, 1982), Dot (Kaua‘i, 1959), Nina (Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, 1957).
96–110 Some damage to building roofs, doors, and windows. Considerable damage to poorly constructed or termite-infested homes. Trees blown down, especially those that are shallow rooted.
111–130 Some structural damage to well-built small residences. Extensive damage to termite-infested buildings. Large trees blown down. Up to 50 percent of palm fronds bent or blown off. Some large trees, such as monkey pod and breadfruit, blown down, especially if the ground is wet. Example: Iniki (Kaua‘i, 1992).
131–155 Extensive damage to non-concrete roofs. Complete failure of many roof structures, windows, and doors, especially unprotected, unreinforced ones; many well-built wooden and metal structures severely damaged or destroyed. Considerable glass failures due to flying debris and explosive pressure forces created by extreme wind gusts. Complete disintegration of structures of lighter material. Up to 75 percent of palm fronds blown off. Many large trees blown down. Major erosion of beach area.
> 156 Total failure of non-concrete-reinforced roofs. Extensive or total destruction of non-concrete residences. Some structural damage to concrete buildings from debris such as cars or appliances. Many well-constructed storm shutters ripped off from structures. Many large trees blown down. Flooding and major damage to lower floors near the shoreline. Example: No record in Hawai‘i, Andrew (Florida,1992).

Personal Safety

Residents who live in light wood constructed homes, on exposed ridge lines, within tsunami inundation zones and flood zones will all be encouraged to evacuate. Each County Civil Defense will work in coordination with the Hawaii Red Cross to open hurricane evacuation shelters statewide and continue to monitor the needs for shelter once the storm has passed the islands. Due to Hawaii’s isolation and vulnerability, Red Cross and Civil Defense recommend that people prepare their emergency kits for 14 days and bring their emergency supplies with them to shelters because airports and ports may be damaged by the storm and slow down the resupply process for local stores.