Above average rain forecast for Hawaiʻi's wet season
The National Weather Service predicts above average precipitation across the Hawaiian Islands as the state heads into a possible third wet season with La Niña conditions.
If La Niña conditions are strong, rain could be more concentrated in certain areas while leaving other areas dry. La Niña, a cooling of Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures near the equator, is expected to continue into the spring of 2023.
During the dry season from May to September, most locations in Hawaiʻi had near or below average rainfall.
All major Hawaiian Islands experienced drought during the dry season.
Maui County was the worst hit and reached exceptional drought conditions in August. Maui and the Big Island both experienced significant brush fires.
Destructive wildfires fueled by heat and drought exacerbated by climate change have plagued communities in the western U.S. and parts of Europe recently but scientists say smaller fires on tropical Pacific Ocean islands are also increasing.
Kevin Kodama, the senior hydrologist for the NWS in Honolulu, says it may be a potential third year in a row of La Niña conditions during the wet season.
“This has only happened twice before since 1950, so it's a pretty unusual situation," Kodama said. "Unfortunately, for areas that are in significant drought right now, in Maui County and the Big Island, there's a chance that this drought can actually persist through the coming wet season. There's a better likelihood of drought recovery in the west half of the states of Kauaʻi and Oʻahu, [that] would have a better chance of seeing a full recovery from drought conditions.”
Ranchers and farmers are hardest hit by Hawaiʻi drought, as invasive Axis deer encroach upon pastures intended for livestock and eat produce, Kodama said.
Kodama reminds residents that flooding can happen even during a drought. Residents should not drive on roads with fast-flowing water or walk across flooded streams.