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