Weak El Nino leaves Hawaii's wet season up in the air

Wet Season Rainfall Outlook from NOAA
© Source: Darren Obayashi
© Source: Darren Obayashi

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new forecast predicts a drier than normal early part of the wet season, however there is a potential for "heavy rain events" in late winter.

The wet season runs from October 2012 through April 2013.

According to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, El Nino has been trying to develop since spring but progression has slowed recently.

El Nino is defined as warmer sea surface temperatures than average across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. A strong El Nino usually means warm/dry winters.

Forecasters on Monday said that weak El Nino conditions are projected through the winter months and we can expect drier than normal conditions through early 2013

However, forecasters add that the potential for heavy rain events increases in late winter through early spring, especially if weak El Nino conditions (ENSO-neutral) continue to dominate.

The forecast also says drought recovery is more likely on Kauai and Oahu.

Like the 2011-2012 wet season, some drought recovery expected on the Big Island and Maui County but full recovery may not occur due to the intensity and longevity of existing drought conditions.

During the state's dry season (May through September 2012), NOAA says that many areas of Hawaii had below average rainfall totals, especially in the leeward areas.

NOAA said that Leeward drought redeveloped or worsened in all four counties, most windward rainfall totals were below average but adequate to meet most needs

Windward rainfall frequency was near normal but daily totals were often below normal.  This has been a characteristic of summer rainfall for several years.

"Severe drought" has affected portions of the State of Hawaii continuously since June 2008.

  • Big Island:  "Extreme drought" (D3 category in U.S. Drought Monitor) expanded from the South Kohala District and Pohakuloa into the North Kona District.  Also redeveloped in the southern portion of the Kau District.  Mainly affecting agricultural operations.
  • Maui County:  "Extreme drought" maintained its presence over the leeward slopes of Haleakala and developed over southwest Lanai.
  • Kauai:  "Severe drought" (D2 category) developed over the southern and eastern lower slopes.  Mainly impacting livestock operations.
  • Oahu:  "Moderate drought" (D1 category) developed over the southwest half of the island then eased in September to just the leeward slopes of the Waianae Range.  Mainly impacting livestock operations.

Wet season preparedness reminders

  • Clean gutters and drainage ditches
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, identify your evacuation routes ahead of time
  • Plan for more rainy weather impacts
    • Increased road travel times or possible detours due to flooding
    • Outdoor activities may be postponed, canceled, or adjusted
  • The wet season always brings increased potential for lightning strikes
    • Be prepared for power outages
    • Move indoors during a thunderstorm
    • June 4, 2011 storm produced more than 22,000 lightning flashes in 30-hours over and near the main Hawaiian Islands
  • Monitor media, NOAA Weather Radio, and Internet sources for changes in weather conditions

For the latest on Severe Weather conditions stay with Hawaii News Now and HawaiiNewsNow.com

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On the Web:

U.S. Drought Monitor

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