Rain helps, but drought not over yet

Tom Birchard
Tom Birchard

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Recent wet weather has helped alleviate drought conditions around the state. A slow moving cold front dropped beneficial rain between Wednesday and Saturday. That comes after closer to normal rainfall during October. But according to forecasters, its still a drop in the bucket.

Some areas got more than ten inches of rain over the four days. Mount Waialeale on Kauai received 11.68 inches, while the nearby Kilohana gauge picked up 10.78 inches. The Oahu National Forest Wildlife gauge recorded 14.7 inches, while 10.99 inches fell in Manoa. On Maui, the West Wailuaiki gauge recorded just over 18 inches of rain. And on the Big Island of Hawaii, 9.68 inches of rain fell at the Kawainui Stream gauge.

Virtually all those amounts are in windward and mauka areas. "And where the drought is most severe at the moment, Leeward Maui and Leeward Big Island, they only got a little bit of rain out of this event, so they remain much drier than normal," said Tom Birchard, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

The Waimanalo area of Oahu still remains under a severe drought designation, where a mandatory 30 percent cutback in irrigation water use from the Waimanalo Reservoir remains in effect.

On the other side of the Koolau mountains, workers at the R&S Nii Nursery above Hawaii Kai have been watering their plants twice a day.

"Well, during the winter months when it's cooler, we water once a day," said Judy Nii, "but because it's been so hot, we've had to extend our summer watering into October."

But the four days of wet weather did bring a little rain, even in the dry area around the nursery. "We shut our water off like four or five days," said Nii. "Probably the next day we water is Monday. And it's saved us, I'd say, hundreds of dollars."

Even with the rain, there's still a big deficit to make up. All four main weather stations around the state have received less than half the amount of rain they should get by this time of year. In Honolulu, 5.26 inches of rain has fallen so far this year; the normal total is 13.63 inches. Hilo has received 47.62 inches, 55 inches below normal.

"Some of this rain at least helped make a dent toward the drought, but we still say it takes more than one event to alleviate a drought completely," Birchard said.

Forecasters are looking at more rain over the winter months. According to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center and the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service, rainfall should be close to normal for November, with wetter than normal conditions possible in December, January and February.

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