WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)

How does 191 mph gust at Mauna Kea, Hawaii compare to world wind records?

By Jesse Ferrell
2/13/2019, 8:30:49 AM

Wed, Feb 13, 8:28 AM

UPDATE: Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina just set a new wind record of 121 mph last night! Also, the potential Hawaii wind and snow records I wrote about before are only a couple examples of the extreme weather seen in Hawaii during the last year, including two new rainfall records and three hurricanes affecting the islands. Check out Capital Weather Gang's wrap-up.

Tue, Feb 12, 2019 2:34 PM

A huge low pressure system moved over Hawaii last weekend, and the weather observatory on Mauna Kea reported a 191-mph wind gust. I suspect that gust was from an equipment console, as the online graph showed winds of "only" 140 mph (it could have been sustained winds):

Mauna Kea Meteogram 2/10

But the data looks good to me. One of the other observatories, Keck, said on Facebook: "Freezing fog depositing inches of ice on everything driven by hurricane force winds. There are reports of at least one gust at over 190mph, but this is hard to verify, between power outages and iced over anemometers the records are spotty. What is clear is that sustained winds peaked at well over 130mph for some time during the night."

At 13,802 feet, Mauna Kea is Hawaii's highest mountain. Snow is not unusual at the peak, especially in the winter, and it snowed there during this event, but the snow levels falling to 6,000 feet on the island of Maui is a new record. The description in the video below says "Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources says it may very well be the first time snow has fallen at a state park in the state."

On Maui's Haleakala Summit at Mees Solar Observatory, winds only gusted to 81 mph, but 4-foot snow drifts were reported with a temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit! Although records aren't online, it's likely that was a new cold record for the summit. Capital Weather Gang says ditto for Mauna Kea, which fell to 12 below zero F!

Mees Solar Observatory Weather Graph 2/10

The GOES-17 weather satellite showed snow on the summits the next day:

Hawaii Snow 2/11

Waves were forecast to be over 60 feet and some locations and were observed to 38 feet at a buoy on the northern side of the island of Kauai:

Hawaii Waves 2/11

We went live on AccuWeather with four wave webcams Sunday afternoon. By evening, power had gone out for over 30,000 people on the northern islands, cutting the feeds.

A total of 39 local storm reports were issued by NWS spotters, mostly for wind damage.

Hawaii Local Storm Reports 2/10

Ironically, the 191 report was just a day after Mount Washington, New Hampshire, reported 148 mph, their highest gust in 10 years.

Mt. Washington Highest Gust in a Decade

Those two reports combined made me want to update my list of the highest wind gusts ever recorded (last updated in 2010):

Picking out only the verified readings above, that list becomes:

  • 253 MPH - Cyclone Olivia, 1996 in Australia
  • 231 MPH - Winter Storm 1934 at Mount Washington
  • 207 MPH - Winter Storm 1972 in Greenland
  • 200 MPH - Winter Storm 1973 in New Hampshire
  • 199 MPH - Winter Storm in 2017 at Alpine Meadows, California
  • 186 MPH - Massachusetts 1938 - Hurricane

So, if the 191-mph gust were to be verified, it would be the highest wind gust in Hawaii and the 6th highest wind gust officially verified worldwide. Given the number of gusts above that weren't verified, however, it's unlikely this one will be.

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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)