Rainfall brings relief to West Hawaii

Rainfall brings relief to West Hawaii

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Recent rainfall seems to have helped West Hawaii recover from the drought that hit the area earlier this year.

Rainfall in Honaunau totaled 10.5 inches in May, more than twice the average for that month. During that time, Waimea saw its highest rainfall in nearly two decades and the Kohala Mountains had totals ranging from two to seven times normal levels, West Hawaii Today reported.

The driest January on record in Kealakekua had farmers concerned about their crops. Kurt Schweickhard, who owns a coffee and macadamia nut farm, has welcomed the rain on his property in Kainaliu, where there's been four inches of precipitation so far this month.

"It's been good," Schweickhard said. "People need to fertilize, and we do want the moisture."

Dry conditions on the island had intensified in March before residents felt some relief by April rains. The drought had been blamed on El Nino, a natural warming of parts of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide. In West Hawaii, El Nino brought a stable air pattern to the islands and a big reduction in storms and showers.

The recent high levels of rainfall have mostly been seen in west and north Hawaii regions, while half of the island's rain gauges are still less than 50 percent of average for the first five months of the year. However, meteorologists with the NOAA Climate Prediction Center are predicting above normal rain for the latter half of the dry season that runs from May through September.

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