25th Anniversary of Iniki: How Hurricane Irma Compares

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This week marks the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Iniki, which impacted the island of Kaua‘i from Sept. 5 to 13, 1992.

Hurricane Iniki was the most powerful storm to hit Hawai‘i in modern history—and was also the costliest.

On Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms-ever in the Atlantic made landfall in Florida.

Here is how the two storms compared.


*Story will be updated as numbers and figures from Irma become available.

  • Both Iniki and Irma made landfall in the U.S. as Category 4 hurricanes
  • Iniki left six dead, Irma (as of this publishing) has left seven dead
  • Both Hurricanes start with an “I”
  • Both made landfall near the southern tip of a land mass
  • Iniki made landfall on Kaua‘i with 145 mph winds; Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys with 130 mph winds
  • An approximate wave height of 17 feet was recorded in Koloa, with a high water mark in the area at 22.20 feet
  • A storm surge of 10 feet was recorded in the Florida Keys, according to the National Weather Service
  • Naples had the highest recorded wind speeds in Florida, with gusts reaching 142 mph
  • The highest rainfall recorded in Naples area came in at 11.87 inches
  • The tide on Kaua‘i was 4.5 to 6 feet above normal with a maximum wave height near 35 ft
  • Inundation levels on Kauai was 10-22 feet, with the greatest inundation near Poipou
  • High water marks ranged from 10 to 18.5 feet on Kaua‘i
  • There was evidence of a weak tornado (F1) touchdown in Nanakuli (on O‘ahu); there were multiple reports of tornadoes touching down in Florida as Irma was approaching.
  • A hurricane watch was issued for Kaua‘i less than 24 hours before landfall; Floridians had days of preparation to evacuate and/or prepare for the storm as Irma’s path was more predictable.
  • Kaua‘i suffered nearly $3 billion in damages (including crops—initial estimates are still pending for Irma)

Iniki track from National Hurricane Center.

Even the roof of this building being used by the Red Cross was not spared damage from Hurricane Iniki. FEMA News Photo Photo by FEMA News Photo

Nearly the entire roof has been blown off this multi-story apartment building during Hurricane Iniki. FEMA News Photo Photo by FEMA News Photo

This image shows downed or damaged trees at the famed “Tree Tunnel” on Kauai, Hawaii after the strong winds of Category 4 Hurricane Iniki. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

  • According to a recent CNN article, more than 6.2 million electric customers are without power in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s office said Monday. FEMA chief Brock Long has said some places won’t have electricity for weeks
  • Kaua‘i had power fully restored after three months
  • According to the Red Cross, 14,350 homes on the island were affected with 1,421 destroyed and 5,152 suffering major damage. Wind damage was generally the major contributor, although a number of buildings along the coast that were subject to surf damage suffered nearly total destruction


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