Diurnal Variation of Surface Airflow and Rainfall Frequencies on the Island of Hawaii

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii
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Abstract

The high-resolution Portable Automated Mesonet data from the Hawaiian Rainband Project are used to document the circulation over the entire island of Hawaii for the first time. It is shown that the surface airflow and rainfall occurrences over the island are strongly modulated by the diurnal heating cycle.

Most areas over the island show daytime upslope and nighttime downslope components separated by morning and evening transitions. On the windward slope, the onset of the downslope (upslope) wind during the evening (morning) transition starts on the slopes and progresses downward. The effects of island blocking are also evident. On the windward slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the mean winds are weak (∼1 m s−1) due to flow deceleration. Flow splitting occurs in the Hilo Bay area as the trade winds are forced to move around the island. On the lee side, the trade winds are absent. For stronger trade-wind days, the island blocking is more significant with a higher surface pressure (0.2-0.5 hPa) on the windward slopes and lower pressure in the lee side than weak trade-wind days. Along the windward coast, it is much easier for the land breeze to overcome weaker trade winds. For weaker trade-wind days, the onset (cessation) of land breeze there is earlier (later) in the evening (morning).

At night, the area of maximum rainfall frequency is over the windward lowland west of Hilo. Most of the nocturnal precipitation there starts in situ. The effects of orographic lifting aloft are enhanced by the nighttime convergence west of Hilo due to the interaction between the katabatic-land-breeze flow and the trade winds. In the early morning, the rainfall frequency has a maximum along the windward coast due to the inland drifting of the frequently observed rainbands offshore.

Abstract

The high-resolution Portable Automated Mesonet data from the Hawaiian Rainband Project are used to document the circulation over the entire island of Hawaii for the first time. It is shown that the surface airflow and rainfall occurrences over the island are strongly modulated by the diurnal heating cycle.

Most areas over the island show daytime upslope and nighttime downslope components separated by morning and evening transitions. On the windward slope, the onset of the downslope (upslope) wind during the evening (morning) transition starts on the slopes and progresses downward. The effects of island blocking are also evident. On the windward slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the mean winds are weak (∼1 m s−1) due to flow deceleration. Flow splitting occurs in the Hilo Bay area as the trade winds are forced to move around the island. On the lee side, the trade winds are absent. For stronger trade-wind days, the island blocking is more significant with a higher surface pressure (0.2-0.5 hPa) on the windward slopes and lower pressure in the lee side than weak trade-wind days. Along the windward coast, it is much easier for the land breeze to overcome weaker trade winds. For weaker trade-wind days, the onset (cessation) of land breeze there is earlier (later) in the evening (morning).

At night, the area of maximum rainfall frequency is over the windward lowland west of Hilo. Most of the nocturnal precipitation there starts in situ. The effects of orographic lifting aloft are enhanced by the nighttime convergence west of Hilo due to the interaction between the katabatic-land-breeze flow and the trade winds. In the early morning, the rainfall frequency has a maximum along the windward coast due to the inland drifting of the frequently observed rainbands offshore.

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