Conditions Look Dry as We Head in to Summer

Dean Okimoto
Dean Okimoto
Tom Birchard
Tom Birchard

(KHNL) - Hawaii typically heads toward drier weather over the summer that comes after seven months of unusually dry conditions. And that has many concerned about what could also come along with a drought.

As we head into summer, the islands are drying up.

"We got about one-third the normal rainfall this year. It's been very dry and our water bill is way up," says Dean Okimoto, Nalo Farms.

Hawaii is also heating up, and as temperatures soar, so could prices for island produce and fruits because it costs a lot more to make them.

"Our costs go up dramatically 'cause we have to use city water, which is four times as expensive as irrigation water," says Okimoto.

More water is needed for farms because for the past seven months, very few Windward and Leeward spots around the state even got close to normal rainfall totals.

"Usually winter is our wet season, but we saw most areas got less rain than we normally see and we're concerned going into the summer months 'cause that's the normal dry season," says Tom Birchard, National Weather Service.

It's not just agricultural land that is drying out; months of below normal rainfall means many Leeward areas have turned into cinder boxes waiting to go up in flames. One brushfire erupted in Ewa last week.

And it could get worse for the Leeward sections because usually the showers come in with the easterly trade winds.

"Now that we're into the summer months, trade winds usually dominate -- so most moisture will be Windward and very little will spread to Leeward areas," says Birchard.

That leaves some hoping it's not going to be a long, endless, sunny summer and that the fall rains come soon.

"It's going to get worse before its gets better over the summer," says Okimoto.

Some farmers are so concerned about the dry conditions in two parts of the state that they are already under 10 percent voluntary reductions in water usage in order to save some of the precious resource for the hot and dry days ahead.