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Hawaii received half its tornado warnings (ever) on this day in weather history

Wednesday, March 17th 2021, 4:55 am - On this day in weather history, Hawaii received two tornado warnings.

Listen to The Weather Network's This Day in Weather History podcast on this topic, here.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features stories about people, communities, and events and how weather impacted them.


Hawaii is not known for its tornadoes. On average, it's the second-last state in terms of tornado. Alaska takes the "least likely" crown.

Because of this, today's weather history topic is not nearly as catastrophic as other days. When a tornado does touch down in Hawaii, it's usually very weak.

On Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2020, Hawaii received two tornado warnings.

According to Iowa Environmental Mesonet at Iowa State University, these warnings doubled Hawaii's tornado warnings ever recorded in the state. The data has been tracked since 1986.

The previous two warnings were for Kauai on Dec. 13, 2008, and Maui on Mar. 24, 2006.


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The tornado warnings were a product of a "Kona storm," which is a type of cyclone in the Hawaiian Islands that's formed from westerly ("Kona") winds. Hawaii usually gets two or three of these storms annually. They usually come with heavy rain, hailstorms, high winds, waterspouts, and the very occasional tornado warning.

The second tornado warning that was issued that day was associated with a rotation that featured a “bounded weak echo region” (BWER) on radar. It looks like the eye of a storm. That apparent hole occurs when an updraft is so strong that rain isn’t able to fall within it.

These two tornado warnings didn't quite make it into actual tornadoes, but the storm left some impressive hail behind.

hi-hailstone-9mar12-480x445 980x551 "The hailstone pictured above measured 4.25 inches in length. It was produced by a supercell thunderstorm on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, on Mar. 9, 2012, and is the largest hailstone on record in the Aloha State." Courtesy of National Weather Service

Hawaii has only received 40 confirmed tornadoes in its history, and no deaths have been associated with them. Their most costly tornado occurred on Jan. 28, 1971, with around $2.5 million worth of damages.

To hear more about this rare Hawaiin event, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

Subscribe to 'This Day in Weather History': Apple Podcasts | Amazon Alexa | Google Assistant | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeartRadio | Overcast'

Thumbnail: Courtesy of Pexels

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