Discussion: The Hawaiian Islands are a special place that bring some of the most attractive weather year-round to its visitors and locals. Great weather, a season and location all coupled together create a rare phenomenon that only a few have ever seen, Lahaina Noon.
Lahaina Noon, a term coined by the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu, is so aptly named due to its native Hawaiian of la haina meaning “cruel sun”. With Hawaii being the only state in the US in the tropics, it experiences Lahaina Noon. This phenomenon is caused as the sun is directly overhead in a specific location or known as the sun’s zenith (subsolar polar point) travels to different locations across the earth, as the earth rotates and orbits the sun, when it hits that exact location of being overhead it creates an effect of no apparent shadow.
This rare occurrence remains often unheard of as it is limited to a specific area, this existing between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (23.5°N and 23.5°S). This will allow for the event to occur twice per year. At the subsolar point the sun’s rays are perpendicular to the Earth’s surface. The angle between the location of the sun and an object is what casts a shadow, and when the angles are aligned (within these latitudes) the shadows appear mostly non-existent.
The next cities to experience Lahaina Noon in the United States are Hilo, on July 24th, at 12:27PM, Kailua-Kona on July 24th, 12:31PM and South Point, Hawai’i Island, July 28th, 12:29PM. For additional cities and more information on local Hawai’i astronomy in 2019 visit the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.
To view other fun and interesting weather-related phenomenon visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
© 2019 Meteorologist Jessica Olsen