Record rainfall in August ends drought on Big Island, Oahu

Published: Sep. 13, 2016 at 8:37 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 14, 2016 at 12:55 AM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In August, the rain gauge at Lyon Arboretum collected its highest rainfall total for the month in more than 20 years.

Indeed, rain gauges across Oahu broke records.

National Weather Service hydrologist Kevin Kodama said the higher-than-normal rainfall totals are evident in the landscape.

"You don't expect Diamond Head to be green at this time of the year and Punchbowl is very lush," he said.

Rainfall was sufficient to remove drought conditions from the Big Island and Oahu. But drought is stubbornly hanging on over parts of Maui and Kauai, areas rainfall avoided.

"That small area near Hanapepe actually got worse over the past month or so," Kodama said.

The biggest surprises were rains over leeward sides, where pre-summer forecasts predicted dryness.

"You don't factor tropical cyclone activity into this forecast, and we had a fair amount of those," Kodama said. "That really helped boost the summer rainfall numbers across the state."

So did above normal sea surface temperatures, which fed more moisture into the lower atmosphere.

Hawaii Farm Bureau Executive Director Brian Miyamoto said farmers and ranchers coming out of drought rejoice over the rain, but too much rain can flood fields, ruin crops and attract pests.

"When we do have times of plenty such as these localized heavy showers we need to consider drought mitigation for times when we don't. So we need to address some of our reservoirs, or building new reservoirs or repairing reservoirs so we can capture that water," he said.

Kodama said models forecast higher than average rainfall for the remainder of the year.

"Over the last two years we've had the two wettest Augusts ever," he said.

Keep in mind: The state's wet season begins next month.

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