Record low rainfall recorded on Wai’ale’ale

“The wettest spot on earth” isn’t even the wettest spot on Kaua’i or in Hawai’i this month, as Mt. Wai’ale’ale near the center of Kaua’i and other parts of the island are on pace to mark record low rainfall amounts in December, according to National Weather Service Hydrologist Kevin Kodama.

Normally, Wai’ale’ale gets 476 inches of rain a year, and over 45 inches in December, but through earlier this week only 1.52 inches of rain in December, and is on pace to easily break the low-rainfall December record of 3.07 set in 1983, Kodama said.

With no heavy rains in the forecast for the rest of this year, Kodama thinks lowrainfall records will fall.

“It’s very likely we’re going to set a record,” said Kodama.

Wai’ale’ale isn’t the only place on Kaua’i getting scant amounts of rain this month.

The low-rainfall record for Lihu’e Airport for December, 0.51 inches set in 1985, is likely going to fall, as earlier this week just 0.07 inches of rain had fallen at the airport, Kodama said.

Normally, Lihu’e Airport gets around 4.78 inches of rain in an average December.

There are no storms on the horizon that might threaten the low-rainfall records, he said.

“We’re not seeing substantive rain the rest of this year, through New Year’s,” Kodama said of the forecast.

“It’s just been unusually stable,” he said of weather conditions that have led to a distinct absence of rain this month.

Any storm systems have been weak ones this month, with a strong north jetstream and weather patterns moving west to east instead of south to north patterns that would bring the island showers, he explained.

“The storm tracks have been missing us. There’s going to be some impacts, some drought-type impacts, if it continues,” he said of the dry weather.

The lack of rainfall hasn’t been much of a concern to either Kaua’i Fire Department Chief Robert “Bob” Westerman, nor to officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

“We’re green enough right now,” having come out of the dry summer season with lots of rainfall near the end of that season, Westerman said.

A one-month shortage of rainfall is not in and of itself reason for concern, but if the lack of rain continues, there likely will be some monitoring to be done in the next two weeks or so, he added.

“We are concerned, but not to a point where we would consider closing any areas to the public,” said Wayne Ching, protection forester with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

“We will continue to monitor the situation over the next few months,” Ching said of state forestry lands on Kaua’i. There are no plans to declare high-fire-danger areas or close any areas to the public, he added.

While other areas of the state have seen lower-than-normal December rainfall totals, none will likely see new record lows as Kaua’i will likely experience, Kodama said.


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