Why OGG is the Windiest Airport in the State…

May 14, 2016, 10:00 AM HST · Updated June 25, 12:36 PM
Meteorologist Malika Dudley · 0 Comments
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Aloha, I’m meteorologist Malika Dudley and today we are talking about weather here on Maui. We’re in a Blue Hawaiian Helicopter and from this vantage point you can really see some of the weather features I’m going to be talking about. First up, let’s talk wind.

East to northeast winds are present 85 to 90 percent of the time in the summer and 50 to 80 percent of the time during winter. That’s our predominant weather feature here on Maui.

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The way the wind interacts with our mountains leads to very different climates on windward and leeward slopes. Within relatively short distances we see very different weather – for example in Hana and Haiku it’s wet, Kihei and Lahaina are dry.

Winds are deflected by the mountains and funneled through valleys.

Here on Maui, there’s a weather feature researchers call the “Maui Vortex” – as our northeast winds push into Haleakala along the northern slope they wrap around the mountain and pick up in speed through the central valley. The saddle between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains funnels those winds making Kahului the windiest major airport in the state.

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The winds then hit the West Maui Mountains and are nudged to the south through Maalaea harbor and over McGregor Point. So the wind is more northerly in Kahului and the way through Kihei.

The winds that come through Kihei then rise up the slopes of Haleakala completing the cycle and creating a spinning vortex with a clear eye. This might actually be the reason for the name of the town of Pukalani which literally means “hole in the sky. “

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Meteorologist Malika Dudley
Malika was born and raised in Hilo. She began her career in news at KGMB9 in 2007. As a part of the Hawaii News Now weather team, Malika was nominated for two Emmy Awards for excellence in weather reporting and won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Journalism Award for her reporting on Hawaii’s tsunami damage in 2011. In 2019, Malika was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter in the category of Science Reporting for her Big Island Now news report on what was happening beneath the sea surface at the ocean entry of the Puna lava flow.  

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