The last hurricane to hit any of the islands was Hurricane Iniki which went directly over the island of Kauai where it killed six people, destroyed 1400 homes and did over a billion dollars in damage. That was on September 11th, 1992. Nearly twenty-six years ago. There have been no hurricanes that have passed directly over the islands of Hawai’i since.
Hurricane Iwa was the strongest to ever hit the state before Iniki, that was back in 1982. In the ten years between 1982 and 1992 not a single hurricane hit the islands. Hurricane Dot in 1959 was a category one storm when it hit Kauai. You have to go back to 1957’s Hurricane Nina for the next one and it never actually hit land.
The biggest danger to most of the islands comes from large surf and storm surge generated by the storm. Most of this will hit places like Makapu’u Beach but some will also hit inhabited areas on south shores.
As seen in the image above, Hurricane Iselle and Hurricane Julio made their way towards the islands back in August 2014. However, neither storm hit the island's directly. Nevertheless, each storm did bring torrential rains, wind damage, flooding and massive storm surge (great news for many local surfers!) to Hawaii.
So, why are hurricanes so rare in Hawai’i? No one knows for sure. One theory is that the high peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa draw the energy away from the storms and in some cases actually push them away. One piece of evidence that supports this is the historical data which shows numerous tropical depressions and hurricanes losing power as they get closer to the 14,000 foot peaks on the Big Island.
Kauai, the island farthest from the Big Island has suffered the most damage from hurricanes of all the Hawaiian Islands.