September comes to a close with record-high temps

  • JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald

    Keiki cool off in the water Monday afternoon at Moku Ola (Coconut Island) in Hilo,

If you’re of a certain age, perhaps the 1963 hit “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas has been going through your head recently — and with good reason.

Record-high temperatures in Hilo were recorded on three days during the past week, and hot, muggy conditions prevailed regardless of records.

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Unfortunately, there appears to be little, if any, relief in the near future.

On Sunday, the temperature reached 88 degrees at the airport, tying the record set in 1976.

As about 60 shade-seekers hunkered down beneath a tarp tent Sunday afternoon to bless the site of the future Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce Cultural and Education Center in Hilo, state Rep. Chris Todd told a visiting dignitary from Portugal, “You mentioned this was your first time in Hawaii — and I promise you that this is the hottest and most humid week of my entire life.”

In addition, Friday’s 88 degrees also tied the record high for Sept. 28 set in 1993, and on Thursday, the mercury rose to 90 degrees, eclipsing the previous record of 89 degrees for Sept. 27 set in 1974.

And those days weren’t even the hottest of the past week in Hilo.

That dubious honor would go to Wednesday, with a scorching high of 91 degrees. Surprisingly, it fell two degrees short of the record of 93 degrees for Sept. 26 and the month of September, which was set Sept. 26, 2014, and tied on Sept. 2, 2015.

The heat index — which factors in the temperature, plus humidity, winds and other variables affecting human comfort or discomfort to produce a number of what the temperature feels like — spun an even more sweltering tale, hitting 91 on Sunday, 90 on Saturday and a sauna-like 94 on Friday.

The withering week closed out a sultry September, as the average daily high temperature for the month was 86.1 degrees, almost three degrees higher than the normal average high of 83.3 degrees for the ninth month of the year, and almost two degrees higher than last year’s September average high of 84.3 degrees.

According to the National Weather Service website, the first week of October promises more of the same.

Monday’s high temperature hit 87 degrees in Hilo, three degrees shy of the record high for Oct. 1 of 90 degrees set in 2003, with the heat index reaching 92. Today’s forecast high is also 87 degrees, with 86 degrees the projected high temperature for each day from Wednesday through Saturday.

“You’re going to have light winds. It’s probably going to continue the next few days,” said Jeff Powell, lead forecaster for the NWS in Honolulu, on Monday. “You don’t have a lot of trades, so the skies are probably clearing off. It’s pretty dry over there, so you’re not getting a lot of cloud cover. There’s no big mechanism that’s driving it; it’s just a combination of drier air and lighter winds. It doesn’t feel cooler because you don’t have the cooling winds, and the drier air prevents a pervasive cloud shield from forming.”

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Asked if he expected additional heat records to become history soon, Powell replied, “I don’t know if records will be broken, but it’ll be warm.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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