Since returning from Hawai’i, everyone has been asking me, “Why aren’t you more tan?” My response is, “SPF 70 and a hat.” The UV index in Hawai’i ranges from high to extreme, so sun protection is necessary to avoid serious sunburn and other long-term skin problems.
The UV index is a scale that measures the intensity of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. Readings vary from place to place as local factors affect the amount of UV light that reaches the ground. These include, the thickness of the ozone layer, latitude, season, elevation, and cloud cover. Developed in the early 1990’s by the NWS and EPA to warn the public about the risk of overexposure to the sun, it is calculated on a daily basis for every city in the U.S.
Hawai’i is located in the tropics at approximately 20°N latitude. As a result, the sun sits higher in the sky as compared to the mainland. When the sun’s rays are more directly overhead, they filter through less of the atmosphere and are therefore more intense when they reach the ground. Consequently, the UV index in Hawai’i is higher than any other location in the U.S. It averages around 7 in the winter and 11+ in the summer.
Chart Source: EPA