Weather is a short term situation made up of temperature, moisture (like rain or snow), and cloud coverage. Climate is based on the weather over a long period of time.
In the Hawaiian islands weather is affected by two main factors, the trade winds and the elevation of the volcanoes. As the trade winds blow clouds onto the Northeastern side of the islands the clouds hit the volcanic mountains and cool down which causes precipitation. This means the Northeastern part of the islands are wet and the Southwest is very dry.
There are 13 climate zones in the world, and 8 of them can be found on the big island of Hawaii. The climates not on the island are:
- Winter Dry (Temperate Climate)
-Winter Dry (Continental Climate)
-Summer Dry (Continental Climate)
-Continuously Wet (Continental Climate)
-Polar Ice Caps (Polar Climate)
But 8 climates can be found on the island and they are:
-Continuously Wet (Tropical)
-Winter Dry (Tropical)
-Summer Dry (Tropical)
-Dry and Semi-Arid (Steppe)
-Dry Arid (Desert)
-Continuously Wet (Temperate)
-Summer Dry Warm (Temperate)
If you want to visit the different climates on the big island of Hawaii, here's where you can go, and what you should expect:
Tropical: The Hamakua Coast is an example of this climate. The temperature here stays around 80 degrees F all year. The canopy of the rainforest provides lots of shade, but because of the high temperatures, every afternoon rainclouds form, so you should bring an umbrella and raincoat.
Photo from gohawaii.com
Arid and Semi-Arid: Kua Bay is a white sand beach that is an example of this climate zone. In this climate zone evaporation rates are higher than precipitation rates, so it is very dry. If you decide to visit you should take sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, lots of water to drink. If you are planning on going swimming, bring your swimsuit. Keep in mind that the waves are bigger than most places so you should be careful and follow all lifeguard instructions.
Temperate Climate: Temperatures here are never too cold or too hot. An example of this is the Volcano Village. Here the sub-climate is "Continuously Wet" which means you should be prepared for rain.
Polar Climate: You may think that Hawaii is a beach place, but it does have a polar climate. Polar climates have an average temperature below 50 degrees F every month of the year. Permanently frozen soil to depths of hundreds of meters with temperatures between 32 degrees and 50 degrees F in the warmest month. You could find this climate on the summits of Mount Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. You can actually snowboard and snow ski here during parts of the year!