Hawaii County Geosciences (Weather, Climate, Volcano, Etc)

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February 18, 2024

All about Hawaii Geography, Weather, and more!

  1. Live Webcam of Kilauea Volcano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBh-ZhIB1Nk
  2. Interactive Map Viewer with Temperatures, Rainfall, Wind, Clouds, Topography, Elevation and much more.  http://climate.geography.hawaii.edu/interactivemap.html
  3. Current Weather/Winds/Hurricane Forecast (be sure to click the “FWD” button to get to the current data and time): zoom.earth
  4. Climates of Hawaii: With this amazing tool, you can look at precipitation, temperature, wind, clouds, and more variables that you never knew were important. http://climate.geography.hawaii.edu/interactivemap.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Hawaii But to summarize the climate zones this handy picture gives you an idea of the variety of climates Hawaii Island offers.
  5. Rainfall: Precipitation on the Island varies greatly.  Being in an area with a lot of rain is a double-edged sword.  Things grow really well…and things grow really well – like grass, weeds and all the things you don’t want to grow fast. And mold can also be an issue in the wetter areas.  Conversely, dry areas won’t grow plants as well, but there is far less mold and mildew.  This site shows rainfall in detail by month: http://rainfall.geography.hawaii.edu/interactivemap.html No matter where you are, however, it’s important to remember the Island can receive large amounts of rainfall at one time. Occasionally, surface flooding may occur in roadways and on the property.  
  6. Hawaii Island Elevation Contour Map:  https://geoportal.hawaii.gov/datasets/HiStateGIS::hawaii-elevation-contours-100ft/explore?location=19.480771%2C-155.349270%2C9.47
  7. Lava Hazard Zones:  Buyer(s) are advised to review https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/frequently-asked-questions-and-answers-about-lava-flow-hazards  and https://hilo.hawaii.edu/natural-hazards/volcanoes/documents/natural-hazards/volcanoes/USGS_Lava_Flow_Hazard_Zone_Maps.pdf for information regarding lava hazard zones. Some zones may be subject to an increased insurance premium and limitation on insurance coverage.  The U.S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey, has classified “hazard zones” for lava flows to aid in assessing risk of lava flow in a particular area.  These zones may limit the ability to obtain property insurance.  The google earth .kmz lava zone map can be found here: d9-wret.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com 
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  9. Flood Zone: Buyer(s) are advised to contact the Hawaii County Planning Department for information on Flood Zone Designations. Buyer(s) are advised to consult https://fhat.hawaii.gov/ for flood zone information.  Some zones may require Flood Insurance. Buyers should seek professional advice from an insurance agent regarding costs and availability of insurance.
  10. Wind Speed Maps:  https://ags.hawaii.gov/bcc/building-code-rules/wind-maps/  Wind, Snow, and Seismic Load Generator: skyciv.com
  11. VOG: With the volcano comes “Vog” which resembles smog but is primarily sulfur dioxide.  Due to wind patterns, it is more common on the Kona side of the Island, but can affect any part of Island. People with respiratory issues may be more prone to Vog, including sore throat, headaches, breathing difficulties and more. Learn more here: Big Island Vog Conditions  and  mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu
  12. Sea Level Rise: Legislation in 2021 requires buyers to be notified if a subject property is affected by sea level rise.  What is it? https://climate.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/SLR-XA-Flyer-Final.pdf  Sea Level Rise Viewer: pacioos.hawaii.edu
  13. Tsunami Risk: Buyer(s) should consult the appropriate County and State agencies, including https://dod.hawaii.gov/hiema/public-resources/tsunami-evacuation-zone/ to determine if the subject property is in a "Tsunami Hazard" Area.  If so, the property may be subject to building restrictions and issues obtaining insurance.
  14. Volcanic Activity:  Hawaii Island has several active and inactive volcanoes. “Vog” (volcanic emissions) may affect the air and rain water quality on the Island.  Buyer(s) are advised to contact the State of Hawaii, Department of Health for more information as well as visit https://vog.ivhhn.org/current-air-quality. Buyer(s) are also advised to check lava hazard maps and refer to USGS publication, "Volcanic and Seismic Hazards on the Island of Hawaii" for detailed information.  Current Volcanic Activity: usgs.gov
  15. Earthquakes:  The island is subject to earthquake activity of varying and unpredictable magnitude.  Refer to https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo for more information.
  16. Geothermal Subzone: Check out https://files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/op/gis/maps/geothermal_maps.pdf and https://www.higp.hawaii.edu/hggrc/projects/geothermal-digital-collection/geothermal-collections/historical-maps-2/ for additional information on this matter.
  17. Radon Gas: Buyer(s) have been advised to check with State Health Department regarding radon gas risks in Hawaii County.  See also https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2014-08/documents/hawaii.pdf .
  18. Soil Contaminants and Arsenic:  Information has been published regarding previous pesticide use on the Big Island, including but not limited to the East side and the Keaau area. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the earth's crust. It is found at elevated levels in some Hawaiian soils that were subject to sugar cane production, as well as former pesticide storage and mixing areas and former Canec and wood treating plants. https://health.hawaii.gov/heer/guidance/specific-topics/arsenic/#:~:text=In%20Hawai%CA%BBi%2C%20low%20levels%20of,treatment%20plants%2C%20and%20golf%20courses