Kauai dodges summer drought

LIHUE — Western areas of the state, including Kauai and Oahu, were largely spared from drought this summer thanks to near to above average rainfall, according to local National Weather Service meteorologists.

“The reason for that was because we had a bit of an extension of the wet season,” National Weather Service Senior Hydrologist Kevin Kodama said on Friday. “The wet season normally ends in April, but kind of like the credits of the movies that keep on going and at very end you get a surprise, we had a few heavy rain events in May.”

Those rain events, in addition to several bumps in moisture generated from a weakened Tropical Storms Flossie and Gil in July and August, helped stave off some drought effects for certain parts of Maui, Oahu and Kauai, Kodama said.

The worst drought conditions, he said, are being felt by residents of the Big Island, where the Kohala Ditch is reporting its lowest water level since 1910 and ranchers across the Hamakua and Kohala areas of the island are buying feed and hauling water.

Parts of Maui County, especially in the upcountry, south and central areas of Maui, are also experiencing voluntary water restrictions because of low water levels in ditches that feed upcountry reservoirs.

“For Maui County and the Big Island, their drought conditions are so pervasive, so intense and so long-lasting that it will take more than a couple of rain events to get rid of it,” Kodama said.

Kauai, on the other hand, experienced a moderate drought through the dry season that mainly impacted agriculture operations on the Westside from Waimea to Barking Sands, Kodama said.

“Overall, there’s just some of the leeward areas creeping into the lowest level of drought but it’s more dry than anything else,” National Weather Service spokesman Michael Cantin said. “Other than the leeward areas, the island of Kauai is in good shape and is starting out good. The key to seeing improvement is starting in a good place at the end of the dry season.”

Data from the U.S. Geological Survey indicated that most of the monitored streams on Kauai and Oahu had flow averages for October in the near normal range.

The outlook for the wet season months of October through April is ENSO-neutral — neither El Nino or La Nina — into the spring, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“What we’re looking at for our weather here and our wet season is near to above average rainfall for the Hawaiian Islands into the early part of 2014,” Kodama said. “The long-range outlook into 2014 shows a potential for an early entry of the dry season by a little bit. The probabilities are favoring drier than average conditions toward the tail end of our wet season.”

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