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Hawaiian Islands Synoptic Discussion and Guidance

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Suitable weather for light plane flying can be found in Hawaii year round. Roughly one quarter of days contain weather that might discourage aerial sightseeing, but if you are flexible in your plans, you'll seldom be shut out from a cross-country flight during a visit to Hawaii.

Trade Wind Weather
Weather associated with trade winds is the most common to be found in Hawaii. Trade winds blow from the northeast, averaging about 15 knots, with higher gusts.
     When trade winds impact the northeastern terrain of islands, clouds thicken and rain may fall. Thus, you often have to choose between flying on the rainy side of islands (northeast) or on the turbulent side of islands (southwest).
     Rain showers are often most common in the early morning hours during trade wind days. Thus, by delaying your departure until 10:00am or so, you can avoid the wettest time of day. Also, keep an eye on the forecast. Visibility reductions to 5 miles in rain showers are quite common in forecasts. However, if the forecast is for reductions to 3 miles visibility in showers, this could be a good clue that the day may be unsuitable for aerial sightseeing.

Kona Wind Weather
Kona winds blow from the west, southwest, or south. They are associated with some of the very best, and very worst weather to be found in Hawaii.
     The atmospheric stability found with trade winds disappears on many Kona Wind days. On days with very light Kona Winds, the heating of the islands with daylight plays an important role in creating weather, and sometimes cumulus clouds will tower high and drop large quantities of rain in the afternoons of days with light Kona Winds. Thus, you are better off flying in morning hours during days with such winds.