By AUDREY McAVOY
HONOLULU (AP) - Weeks of slow, soaking rains are allowing Hawaii cattle ranchers to hope they may at last escape a punishing drought brought on by years of below-normal rainfall.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says rain gauges on the lower slopes of the Big Island's west side recorded their highest January totals since 2005.
Maui Cattle Co. President Alex Franco says some ranchers are holding on to calves they were planning to ship to the U.S. mainland for feeding if January and February turned out to be dry.
But ranchers warn the soil will dry out if rain doesn't keeping falling during the rest of Hawaii's wet season, which lasts through April. Parts of the state face the same multiyear-drought problem as California's agricultural heartland and other regions in the West.