Wai’ale’ale rain guage floats back to top of rainfall charts

After a month when “the wettest spot on Earth” wasn’t even one of the top-20 wettest spots in Hawai’i, Mount Wai’ale’ale made a comeback, and is back on top as one of the wettest spots on the planet.

The December total of 1.67 inches of rain recorded at Wai’ale’ale was an all-time low for that month, breaking the previous record of 3.18 inches in 1983, according to National Weather Service statistics.

Still, Wai’ale’ale’s 2005 rainfall total was tops in the state, at 343.82 inches, just 81 percent of the normal annual rainfall of 423.90 inches.

Wai’ale’ale’s 2005 total was just over five inches more than that recorded at Pu’u Kukui on Maui.

And, after an above-average January, when the 44.65 inches of rain was tops in the state (117 percent of the normal January total of 38.10 inches), and included a 7.05-inch day on Jan. 25 (the highest single-day total in the state last month), Wai’ale’ale is back with a vengeance.

The rainfall total of more than 18 inches recorded for the 24-hour period ending at 2 p.m. Tuesday pushed the Wai’ale’ale total even further skyward.

The rain forced closure of Kuhio Highway in the vicinity of the bridge over the Hanalei River for 18.5 hours, from midnight Tuesday morning until 6:36 p.m. Tuesday, according to Mary Daubert, county public information officer.

For January, Kaua’i leeward totals came in at less than 50 percent of normal, the lowest amount being only 0.38 inches (8 percent of the normal average of 5 inches) at Hanapepe.

The island of Kaua’i experienced record-setting dryness during the month of December, with all guages reporting below-normal totals and most at less than 10 percent of normal.

The all-time record for the driest December ever was also broken at Lihu’e Airport (0.08 inches, previous record 0.51 inches in 1985, down from normal-month totals of 4.8 inches).

Rain totals for 2005 ended up in the near-to-below-normal range for most of the guages on Kaua’i, with most amounts between 50 and 80 percent of normal.

The lowest 2005 Kaua’i total came from the Port Allen guage, which recorded only 16.03 inches all year, just 58 percent of the normal annual average of 27.8 inches.

In yesterday’s paper, it was incorrectly stated that Wai’ale’ale’s 24-hour rainfall total from 2 p.m. Monday to 2 p.m. Tuesday, over 18 inches, was nearly 12 times as much rain as fell there all of last year.

Actually, that 24-hour total earlier this week was around 11 percent more than fell at Wai’ale’ale in all of December 2005.

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