‘Not out of the woods yet’

LIHUE — All the recent rains on Kauai greened things up, but the drought that’s lingered since early this year isn’t over.

“We had a pretty good August (for rainfall),” said Keith Komar, meteorologist technician at the Lihue weather station. “Most of the rain came that night we had the thunderstorms (Aug. 30) when Lihue Airport picked up 1.16 inches.”

Lihue finished August unofficially at 9.84 of rain, well up from last year’s 1.4 inches.

Mount Waialeale on Kauai recorded about 4.30 inches of rain for the 24-hour period ending at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. Rain gauges at Kilohana showed 4.91 inches of rain and Wainiha measurements came in at 3.20 inches.

This rainfall is connected with Tropical Storm Ignacio, whose center was located 335 miles north-northeast of Lihue as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, and moving north.

The National Weather Service forecasts very humid conditions with heavy showers and a chance of thunderstorms continuing through most of the week. The extended forecast depends heavily on the track of Hurricane Jimena, which is located about 790 miles east of Hilo, or 1,090 miles east-southeast of Lihue as of Wednesday morning.

“Jimena is too far away for us to get any effects of the storm, except for maybe some waves,” Komar said. “It’s staying east of us so it’s not going to affect us at this point.”

Rainfall varied around Kauai with the leeward areas reporting very little rain, including just .10 inches recorded at Waimea Heights. Makaha Ridge came in at .27 inches, Puu Lua at .45 inches, and Kokee reported .81 inches for the period ending Sept. 1.

The National Weather Service continued its severe drought, or D2 conditions, for portions of Kauai, including the areas from the lower elevations from Hanapepe to Kalepa Ridge in an Aug. 6 release with no significant changes from its July report, said Kevin Kodama, hydrologist with the Weather Forecasting Office in Honolulu.

“After checking with the Farm Service Bureau, there are improving conditions where some of the dry areas, or D0 (dry, but not drought) areas were trimmed back, including Niihau island,” Kodama said. “But this wasn’t enough to make a difference in terms of grass growing back strong, so although some of the D0 areas were trimmed back, we did see some improvements, which will be indicated in the next drought impact statement on Sept. 10.”

Vegetation and pasture conditions in the Hanapepe area remain very poor, and drought conditions have forced ranchers operating near Kalepa Ridge to destock pastures due to inadequate feed and water.

“The rains we had in August helped make a dent in the drought,” Komar said. “But we’re not out of the woods, yet. It did help fill some of the reservoirs and aquifers.”

Abnormal dryness was removed from the islands of Niihau, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe, and some of the dry coverage, or D0 areas, on Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island were trimmed away.

The U.S. Geological Survey summary states that Kauai has recorded below-average rainfall. From March through May, rainfall was about 79 percent of average, and as of May, rainfall near the summit of Mt. Waialeale was below average for 11 of the last 12 months.

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