Aloha Book - Hawaii
The climate of Hawaii is typical for a tropical area, although temperatures and humidity tend to be a bit less extreme than other tropical locales due to the constant trade winds blowing from the east. Summer highs are usually in the upper 80s °F, (around 31°C) during the day and mid 70s, (around 24 °C) at night. Winter temperatures during the day are usually in the low to mid 80s, (around 28 °C) and (at low elevation) seldom dipping below the mid 60s (18 °C) at night. Snow, although not usually associated with tropics, falls at 4,205 meters (13,796 ft) on Mauna Loa on the Big Island in some winter months. Snow rarely falls on Maui's Haleakalā. Mount Waialeale, on the island of Kauai, is notable for rainfall, as it has the second highest average annual rainfall on Earth, about 460 inches (11.7 m). Most of Hawaii has only two seasons: the dry season from May to October, and the wet season from October to April.
Local climates vary considerably on each island, grossly divisible into windward (Koolau) and leeward (Kona) areas based upon location relative to the higher mountains. Windward sides face cloud cover. This fact is utilized by the tourist industry, which concentrates resorts on sunny leeward coasts.
Hawaii's tallest mountain, Mauna Kea stands at 13,796 ft (4,205 meters) but is taller than Mount Everest if followed to the base of the mountain—from the floor of the Pacific Ocean, rising about 33,500 ft (10,200 meters).
All of the Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes erupting from the sea floor from a magma source described in geological theory as a hotspot. As the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean moves in a northwesterly direction, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. This explains why only volcanoes on the southern half of the Big Island, and the Loihi Seamount deep below the waters off its southern coast, are presently active, with Loihi being the newest volcano to form.
The last volcanic eruption outside the Big Island occurred at Haleakala on Maui in the late 18th century, though recent research suggests that Haleakala's most recent eruptive activity could be hundreds of years earlier. In 1790, Kilauea exploded in the deadliest eruption known to have occurred in what is now the United States. As many as 5,405 warriors and their families marching on Kīlauea were killed in an eruption.
The volcanic activity and subsequent erosion created impressive geological features. The Big Island is notable as the world's second highest island.
Because of the islands' volcanic formation, native life before human activity is said to have arrived by the "3 W's": wind (carried through the air), waves (brought by ocean currents), and wings (birds, insects, and whatever they brought with them). The isolation of the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the wide range of environments to be found on high islands located in and near the tropic, has resulted in a vast array of endemic flora and fauna (see Endemism in the Hawaiian Islands). Hawaii has more endangered species and has lost a higher percentage of its endemic species than anywhere in the United States.