Strong trade winds will make for breezier Big Island through the weekend

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Flags fly in the breeze Wednesday afternoon outside Hale Ānuenue Restorative Care Center on Waiānuenue Avenue in Hilo. (Photo by Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now)

You might have noticed the wind pick up a tad Wednesday afternoon. It was a harbinger of breezier conditions to come — with some areas possibly reaching wind advisory threshold — through the rest of this week and weekend.

The National Weather Service forecast office in Honolulu says a persistent surface high-pressure system centered far north-northeast of the islands is supporting locally strong — yet seasonable — trade winds that will last into Monday.

Those northeast trades are forecast at 15 to 25 mph through today.

“Trade winds are already rather breezy, and the wind-prone areas of the state are blowing in the 20 to 25 mph rage, with gusts of 35 to 40 mph,” said National Weather Service Honolulu forecaster Derek Wroe on Wednesday. “The increase in winds is still expected later Thursday or Friday as an area of high-pressure northeast of the state strengthens slightly and moves to our north.”

Wroe added that the changes will be rather subtle, making their exact timing challenging.


As of the 3 p.m. Wednesday forecast for the Big Island, the northeast winds are expected to pick up to between 15 and 30 mph Friday and then stay pretty much in the 15 to 20 or 25 mph range through Monday.

Typically windy areas of the island, such as leeward Kohala, Kaʻū and in the Saddle region, will likely see higher winds, with wind advisories a possibility.

“We are not looking at a substantial increase in winds,” Wroe said. “Locally as high as 30 mph with gusts 40 to 50 mph in those wind-prone areas, which puts us in a borderline wind advisory situation.”

A wind advisory is issued when sustained winds of 31 to 39 mph for an hour or more are forecast and/or gusts of 46 to 57 mph for any amount of time are possible. Winds that strong can cause unsecured items to be blown into other structures or people and make driving difficult.

Fortunately, since the normally windier regions on the Big Island are more accustomed to breezy conditions, and winds are expected to be borderline advisory, widespread impacts are unlikely.

Trees blow in the wind Wednesday afternoon as people come and go from the Kaiser Permanente clinic in Hilo. (Photo by Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now)

It will be a windy change from the majority of this month so far.

Preliminary data from the Honolulu forecast office through Tuesday showed winds have been relatively mild in June, ranging from an average of 4.9 mph June 17 in Hilo and 6.3 mph in Kailua-Kona on June 15 on the low end to an average of 7.6 mph June 1 in Hilo and 9.7 mph June 4 in Kona on the high side.

The highest peak gust between the two communities recorded through Tuesday was 29 mph June 4 in Kailua-Kona.

And while stronger winds always bring an elevated risk of wildfires during the summer in Hawai‘i, Wroe said much of the Big Island has benefited from recent rains. In fact, there are places around the island still working with a ton of rain from May.

The monthly rainfall summary from the Honolulu forecast office showed there were locations in North Hawai’i that saw more than 1,000% of their monthly average rainfall in May, including the Kohala Ranch area. A rain gauge there received 7.88 inches of rain last month, or 1,176% of its monthly average 0.67 of an inch.


The Lower Kahuku rain gauge in Kaʻū recorded 189% of its monthly May rainfall average of 4.19 inches, receiving 7.92 inches.

The only location Wroe said did not see as much recent rainfall is the western Saddle region, where fire danger would be higher. According to the May rainfall summary, there were only five locations around the island that didn’t see 100% or more of their average May rain.

The only area left experiencing any drought on the island is the summit and slopes of Mauna Kea. As of the June 11 update of the National Drought Monitor, 9.83% of the island is in some kind of drought.

Because of the current moisture levels around the island, Wroe said, fortunately, despite the relatively breezy conditions expected, the National Weather Service is not considering any fire weather watches or red flag warnings at this time for the weekend.

So it doesn’t look like the weather will be all bad heading into the weekend.

Plus, with temps expected between 82 and 87 degrees, you’ll have a good, stiff breeze to help observe the summer solstice, which occurs at 10:51 a.m. Friday, marking the astronomical start of summer.

Although, as is usual it seems, if you’re on the east side of the island, be prepared to welcome the season in with an umbrella as numerous showers are expected during the day while the west side gets partly sunny skies and maybe a shower here and there.

Pink flowers from the nearby trees that were blown off by the wind lay on the back of a car and in the surrounding parking lot Wednesday at the Kaiser Permanente clinic in Hilo. (Photo by Nathan Christophel/Big Island Now)
Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at
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