HILO, Hawaii — Much of the Big Island’s west side experienced drier conditions than normal last month, creating concerns for the area’s coffee farmers.
The National Weather Service’s June rainfall report indicates that the Kona coffee belt had unusually dry conditions during the time of year when the west side should experience an uptick in rainfall, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday. The island’s east side was largely wetter than normal.
“The leeward side, especially Kona, was a little surprising — because this time of year, the Kona slopes, the Kona coffee belt, it’s their wet season,” said Kevin Kodama, a weather service hydrologist. “It’s the only leeward area in the state that has a summertime rainfall maximum.”
The rain gauge in Kealakekua measured 1.76 inches (4.47 centimeters) in June, less than a third of its usual rainfall. So far this year, it has recorded 14.3 inches (36.4 centimeters), about half of its typical rainfall.
The dry conditions might be an effect of the erupting Kilauea volcano, Kodama said. More Vog, the volcanic air pollution, is being emitted, causing rainfall to decrease.
“That actually has an effect of decreasing rainfall, because you’ve got a lot more particulates in the air,” Kodama said.
The higher-elevation field of Heavenly Hawaiian Kona Coffee Farms in Holualoa had plenty of rain, but the lower farm was lacking, said Bill Myers, the company’s general manager. The company is adapting by upgrading its irrigation system.
“Because what you’ll find when you don’t have proper rain, the coffee beans will hollow out,” Myers said. “They’ll be there — they’ll turn red, but there will be nothing valuable inside. So we have to get the irrigation in place. This is the first time we’ve had to do this in many years.”
Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/