Warmer temps, above average rainfall predicted for upcoming wet season

Published: Oct. 17, 2019 at 5:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Weather models predict Hawaii will see a wetter ― and warmer ― wet season, which extends from October through April.

In an outlook published Thursday, NOAA said that residents should prepare for periods of intense rainfall. The season will be so wet it’s expected to eliminate the existing drought in parts of the state.

The prediction is based on current conditions across the Pacific that have in the past produced wetter-than-normal conditions.

“Eight out of the ten rainiest wet seasons in the last 30 years have been ENSO neutral years,” said National Weather Service Hydrologist Kevin Kodama, who was talking about conditions in which there is no El Nino near the equator. “And so we’re expecting, just from that, it looks like we may have wetter than average conditions.”

Kodama also said there’s a chance that during January through March of next year, there may be an increase in the number of heavy rain events and thunderstorms, which could lead to dangerous flash flooding.

A big reason for that -- the Pacific Ocean heat wave that’s now underway, with sea surface temperatures three to four degrees above normal.

“We’re expecting to have warmer than average sea surface temperatures around the state, so that can pump more moisture into the atmosphere, which could possibly create more intense rainfall,” said Kodama.

Forecasters say the likelihood of a wet winter and spring in Hawaii come on the heels of a wetter-than-normal dry season that also saw parts of the state fall into extreme drought.

Those areas -- like Central Maui, which saw a string of wildfires during the summer -- could use the rainfall. But the warm ocean is bad news if you’re looking for relief from the record heat we’ve experienced this summer.

“It’s been that way for a while, and it’s expected to remain that way all the way into next year and maybe even beyond that," said Kodama. “And so that’s going to have an effect on keeping our temperatures up.”

Despite the pockets of very dry weather, NOAA said the dry season in Hawaii that just ended was the seventh wettest in the last 30 years.

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