Lihu‘e already has normal year’s rain

In a normal year, around 40 inches of rain falls at Lihu‘e Airport.

From the beginning of this year to 8 a.m. yesterday, 43.5 inches of rain had fallen at the airport, with around 40 inches of that rain coming in the last six weeks, according to National Weather Service forecasters.

In a normal March, just 3.6 inches of rain falls at the airport.

Through yesterday at 8 a.m., 34 inches fell in March, nearly 10 times the normal March monthly rainfall total there.

In three days this month the single-day totals were more than an average March’s entire total, said Andy Nash, a National Weather Service forecaster in Honolulu reached by telephone.

With several days left this month and more rain forecast before April arrives, the March Lihu‘e Airport rainfall total through yesterday morning not only was a March record, but was a record for any single month, he said.

The previous March record was 14.54 inches, set in 1951, and the previous one-month total for any month was 22.91 inches in December 1968. Rainfall records have only been kept at Lihu‘e Airport back to 1950.

“It’s been a ton of rain,” six weeks of winter rain, and, although most of Monday it was warm and sunny and today’s forecast is for more sunshine, that is only a passing sunny period, with more rain, thunder, lightning, and potential flooding forecast later this week, Nash said.

A low-pressure system west of the islands will bring another round of storms Wednesday and Thursday, with the warm, sunny weather passing “too soon,” he said.

The Pacific in particular, and the entire northern hemisphere in general, has been in a “blocking situation,” with stationary high-pressure systems forcing the jetstream winds to move around the massive systems, and keeping low-pressure systems from being able to move away from the islands, he explained.

That has led to conditions where the low-pressure systems, full of moisture, continue to dump rain on the islands, and can’t move away from the islands because they’re being blocked by the stationary, high-pressure systems.

“The atmosphere does this on occasion,” said Nash.

But the end of that condition appears to be nearing, he added. “We’re seeing more light at the end of the tunnel.” Before that tunnel ends, though, Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale had already smashed a March rainfall record, and was 7/100ths of an inch away from establishing a new record rainfall total for any single month, he said.

Some 90 inches of rain fell at Wai‘ale‘ale so far this month as of 8 a.m. yesterday, he said.

Not only is that a March record (34.7 inches of rain falls at Wai‘ale‘ale in a normal March, and this month’s total has already broken the record of 81.95 inches set in 1951) five days before the end of the month, if anymore rain falls there the rest of this month it will also be a record total for any month, Nash said.

The previous record rainfall for any month at Wai‘ale‘ale was 90.07, in April 1971.

Twelve consecutive months of this month’s drenching would mean over 1,080 inches of rain at Wai‘ale‘ale.

The Moloa‘a rainfall total of 22.84 inches through yesterday morning was also a March record, eclipsing the previous record of 21.97 inches set in 1951.

• Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@kauaipubco.com.

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