Maui News

Hawai’i Lightning Show Delivered 26,000 Strikes in One Day

May 6, 2011, 1:36 PM HST
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By Wendy Osher

WWLLN Image of Lightning Strikes over the state. Google Earth Snapshot image from 30 minute interval at 08:00 UTC May 3, 2011.

The lightning show over the state on Monday and Tuesday, delivered thousands of strikes across the night sky. The data from the Worldwide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN) detailed the strikes by plotting the activity with infrared satellite imagery.

According to Professor Robert H. Holzworth, WWLLN Director at the University of Washington, the event resulted in nearly 26,000 strikes on Tuesday May 3, 2011. The data was retrieved using the Universal Time Code, which is 10 hours ahead of Hawaii Standard Time.

The National Weather Service tracked the thunderstorms that began over the Big Island, peaked across Oahu, then advanced over Kauai. Prof. Holzworth noted that in the images, you can hardly see Honolulu through all the overplotted strokes on May 3. Most of the lightning was tracked to the West of the state and over the islands, with less intensity to the east.

The WWLLN released a five day picture of the lightning strikes recorded over the state between May 1-5, 2011. The data is as follows:


• May 1, 2011: 4,992 strikes


• May 2, 2011: 3,742 strikes

• May 3, 2011: 25,999 strikes

• May 4, 2011: 1,532 strikes


• May 5, 2011 1,068 strikes

The National Weather Service attributed the unstable conditions to a low over the state.

A variety of weather conditions including thunder, rain, hail, waterspouts, and funnel clouds were reported at various locations across the state. On Tuesday, A funnel cloud was reported at 11:18 a.m. about 18 miles SSE of Kamuela on the Big Island. Reports of 0.25-inch size hail surfaced at Olinda on Maui and by the Forest Service on the Big Island. On Oahu, a water spout was reported by a weather observer in Honolulu at around 5:44 p.m. Tuesday. The inclement weather also knocked out power to an estimated 60,000 customers in East Honolulu and Windward Oahu at around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Preliminary data shows heavy rain over the state with 12 hour rain totals ending at 8 p.m. Tuesday recording 3.37 inches at Mount Waialeale on Kauai, more than two inches at Waiawa on Oahu, 0.35 inches at Kamalo on Molokai, 0.68 inches at Puu Kukui on Maui, and 1.59 inches at the USGS Saddle Road Quarry gauge on the Big Island.

*** Supporting information courtesy National Weather Service and WWLN.

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