More Muggy Days Ahead? Hawaii Trade Winds Are Dying Down

Anita Hofschneider/Civil Beat

The trade winds are back. But they might not last for long.

According to a University of Hawaii study, Hawaii's northeast trade winds have decreased by almost a third over the past 40 years.

"This change is very dramatic," said Pao Shin Chu, who heads the Hawaii state climate office in addition to teaching at the university.

Many Hawaii residents rely on trade winds to cool their homes. Civil Beat reported in September that Aiea residents were so concerned about trade winds reaching their homes that a developer commissioned a study to reassure neighbors that its proposed tall buildings wouldn't block the winds. Trade winds are also an important source of rainfall, which helps sustain the state's water supply and maintain the islands' lush environment.

"[The trade winds are] the primary source of precipitation on the windward side and extend to leeward side," Chu said.

The study found that between 1973 and 2009, northeast trade winds decreased from 291 days per year to just 210 days per year.

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