Types of Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Depression- Maximum sustained winds less than 39 miles per hour

Tropical Storm- Maximum sustained winds above 39 miles per hour to 74 miles per hour

Hurricane- Maximum sustained winds above 74 miles per hour (Hurricanes have 5 categories depending on sustained wind speed)


Iniki, the last hurricane to hit Kauai was a category 4 storm that hit on September, 1992. This storm caused 3 billion dollars-worth of damage and is one of the most powerfulstorms to hit the Hawaiian islands to date.

Impacts of Iniki

Iniki produced five years' worth of waste in 24 hours, and recovery took over two years to complete.

The hurricane toppled telephone poles and trees blocking roadways hampering all clean-up and waste management efforts.

Climate change and Hurricanes

The Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change projections predict

"a likely increase of peak wind intensities and notably, where analysed, increased near-storm precipitation in future tropical cyclones."

IPCC Publication on Tropical Cyclones

This means that tropical cyclones, which include hurricanes, may be more intense in the future due to climate change.

At our current waste production rate a storm of Hurricane Iniki's strength could produce 667,000 tons of waste and recyclables in just one day. Although there is no historical data on a category 5 storm, the amount of waste produced would undoubtedly be more severe.

The County of Kaua‘i is currently working on implementing and planning a variety of waste diversion programs (MRF, 32 gallon trash service, and curbside recycling). In the event of a hurricane, these programs would be suspended until the emergency clean-up was completed. This would push back the schedules of many of these highly sought after programs even further into the future.

Ways You Can Help Curb Climate Change

Ride the bus to work or school


Reduce electricity use in your house or workplace


Buy recycled products

Buy low emission vehicles 

Use less hot water if you have an electric water heater

Switch to solar water heating if possible

Plant a tree