Fire and Rain

SOEST and CTAHR document the first hurricane to cause both flooding and multiple fires.

Fire and Rain

Hurricane Lane hit Hawai‘i in August 2018, dropping a four-day single-station maximum of 57 inches of rain on Hawai‘i Island, making it the wettest tropical cyclone ever recorded in Hawai‘i.

Ironically, conditions at the edge of the storm resulted in dry, windy weather conducive to fire. The simultaneous occurrence of rain-driven flooding and landslides, strong winds, and multiple fires complicated the emergency response.

“Iʻve prayed for rain from three named storm events to put out fires in Hawai‘i within the past few years, but Lane is the first time weʻve documented a hurricane that directly increased the fire risk due to high winds and dry conditions preceding the storm and then caused record flooding,” says co-researcher Clay Trauernicht of CTAHRʻs Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management.

“It’s a sobering reminder that summertime in Hawaiʻi is both hurricane season and the time of highest brush fire risk. The paper provides an important case study for Hawai‘i residents on our vulnerability to multiple storm impacts.”

Clay adds, “It was pretty fun to get into the nitty-gritty of Hurricane Lane in terms of meteorology, climate, and fire science—and the study really showcases the talent of in-house researchers at UH who had the expertise, capacity, and concern to take this on as a side project.”

Read the full story on UH News.

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