Steady rainfall has kept Kaua‘i out of drought conditions

While officials of other counties in Hawai‘i are preparing to issue water-conservation notices to combat months-long drought conditions, Kaua‘i suffers no such plight.

In fact, the closest any place on this island comes to a drought-like condition is at an area near Wailua Falls, where a rain gauge has recorded 22.41 inches of rain the first six months this year, 64 percent of normal rainfall for that place over the first half of a year.

That gauge records just over 35 inches of rain in the first six months of a normal year.

By contrast, the arid Makaha Ridge area, which normally receives 23.40 inches of rain in the first half of a year, received 29.32 inches over the first six months of this year, or 125 percent of normal.

Last month, the Makaha Ridge gauge recorded 2.14 inches of rainfall, nearly 200 percent above the 1.10 inches normally recorded in the month of June there.

And while visitors and residents sometimes lament this season’s frequent summer showers, National Weather Service forecasters and hydrologists said island inhabitants and visitors should be thankful for the wet stuff.

“The way the weather pattern has been, Kaua‘i has been fortunate” to get consistent rains, which help crops grow and reduce potential hazards like brush fires, said Kevin Kodama, National Weather Service hydrologist.

Parts of the Big Island did not get normal winter rains late last year and early this year, making that island’s drought conditions more severe now in the face of continued lack of rainfall this summer, he said.

Brush fires on Maui, O‘ahu and the Big Island have been more frequent and severe because of drought conditions on those islands.

“Throughout the year, Kaua‘i has been getting rains,” said Kodama. “Kaua‘i has been more fortunate than the other islands. Kaua‘i did very well in June, and for the year so far,” he said.

That has helped stream flows on the island as well, while on the other islands U.S. Geological Survey officials have seen stream flows slow to near record-low levels, he said.

Last month, with the exception of Wai‘ale‘ale’s 30.10 inches of rain, a gauge near Hanalei River recorded the heaviest island rainfall, 7.99 inches, some 123 percent higher than the June norm of 6.50 inches.

Also last month, 10 of the 14 Kaua‘i gauges recorded above-normal rainfall levels, with another gauge recording 99 percent of normal rainfall (‘Oma‘o, 3.38 inches, just below the June norm of 3.40 inches).

Other gauges recording significant June rainfall included the Hanalei town site, 6.60 inches (102 percent of normal); Kapahi, 6.23 inches (156 percent of normal); Wailua, 5.69 inches (132 percent of normal); Wainiha, 5.21 inches (79 percent of normal); and Koke‘e, 4.04 inches (168 percent of normal).

For the first half of this year, again 10 of 14 gauge sites recorded rainfall between 84 percent and 125 percent of normal.

Wai‘ale‘ale’s rainfall for the first half of an average year is 212.60 inches. The Hanalei River site had the next-highest rainfall total for the first six months of this year, 57.20 inches, which was 91 percent of norm for the period.

Hanapepe had the least rainfall for the first six months this year, 16.04 inches, and that was still 101 percent of normal.

To view rainfall data for Kaua‘i and the rest of the state through the end of June, please see www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/pages/hydrology.html, scroll down to the words “monthly precipitation summaries,” and click on “Jun2003.”

Business Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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