Winter in Hawaii will be drier than normal, forecasters predict

Published: Oct. 21, 2015 at 3:41 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 21, 2015 at 8:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A strong El Nino may mean a drier-than-average winter season, forecasters said Wednesday.

"It is different from what you would normally expect," said Kevin Kodama, a National Weather Service hydrologist.

"What El Nino does, especially one this strong, it causes a large scale change in the weather pattern; so areas that are normally wet will dry out and areas that are normally dry become wet."

NWS released its wet season rainfall outlook for Hawaii, saying October 2015 through April 2016 will see significantly below average rainfall. Forecasters say this is tied to El Nino, which is considered the strongest since the 1997 through 1998 event, and may also end up being the strongest in more than 50 years.

Even though May through September was recorded as the wettest dry season in the last 30 years due to moisture associated with several tropical cyclones, this will simply delay some of the impacts.

The National Weather Service predicts drought development, which could impact agriculture, will start in late 2015 and worsen in early 2016.

Brush fire season may also start a little earlier than normal.

"By time we get to April, let's say, we are looking at widespread at least moderate drought across the state," Kodama said. "If history repeats itself, we will start seeing drought conditions creeping back in and intensifying over time."

He added: "Even though we've had abundant rainfall now and your storage tanks are filled, I wouldn't go crazy on the consumption right now, because things will change quickly. We will dry out, so if you want to ensure you have supplies through the winter months, maybe it is a good idea to start conserving now, especially for folks who would normally count on winter season rainfall."

NWS officials say that even though fewer heavy rain events are expected during the wet season, the public should still be prepared if isolated events occur.

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