Violent Winds on Maui

Violent Winds on Maui are sometimes rare local winds, of very limited extent. They have been observed only in a few areas. They must sometimes reach speeds of 60 to 100 MPH, for they have been known to blow down well-rooted trees as well as power lines designed to withstand very high wind loads.

It is likely that these winds occur infrequently in many sparsely settled areas on the slopes of the mountains of Maui, or near the mouths of canyons along the base of these mountains. They are, however, known best in the settled areas of Kula and Lahaina on Maui.

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KULA WINDS

The Kula winds are strong down slope winds. They occur in the Kula District along a section of the lower slopes on the west side of Mt. Haleakala. According to observations by inhabitants of the area, the winds tend to be strongest in the zone that lies between 2,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level.

In this zone there may be episodes of down slope winds with speeds of over 40 MPH as often as twice a year. However, winds with speeds in excess of 60 MPH probably occur only once every four or five years, on the average.

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LAHAINA WINDS

The Lahaina winds seem also to be down slope winds, but of somewhat different character from those of Kula. In the Lahaina area they have been given the name of “lehua winds” after the lehua tree which grows in that locality and with whose red blossoms the air is filled when these strong winds blow.

They issue from the canyons at the base of the main mountain mass of western Maui, where the steeper canyon slopes meet the more gentle piedmont slope below. These winds have been reported from both the western and southern side of the western Maui mountains.

They are evidently quite infrequent, occurring every eight to 12 years on the average.

When they do occur, however, they are extremely violent, with wind speeds whose effects suggest they may reach 80 to 100 MPH or even more. They have been known to demolish buildings, uproot trees.

The mountains of western Maui are less than 6,000 feet high as contrasted with the 10,000-foot height of Haleakala, and it seems likely that these local Lahaina winds are caused, at least in part, by the funneling of strong trade winds through certain of the mountain gorges. That they are partly down slope winds is evident from their being hot and dry.

The local situations that produce occasional violent winds are not well understood, even though the general causes of these winds can be surmised.

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