LIHUE — The weather will continue to be hot and dry, perpetuating the current drought on the leeward side of Kauai, according to the National Weather Service.
“The precipitation numbers (for May) are roughly consistent with what we’ve had so far this year, less than 50 percent of normal,” said Derek Wroe, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “In terms of what you’re getting on Kauai, that has led to drought development.”
Wroe stated the Kekaha and Kokee areas are in a designated “D2” drought.
“Leeward portions of pretty much every island, Kauai included, is under some form of drought, be it moderate or severe drought right now in the leeward areas,” Wroe said. “So it’s dryer than normal and we’ve been running about 50 percent of normal rainfall or less on Kauai for the month of May and so far this year as well.”
Near record-high temperatures and a lack of rain has led to conditions conducive to fires like the one in Kokee.
“We’re abnormally dry, we’ve been breaking records, so we’ve been a little warmer than normal too,” Wroe said. “So that’s helping to dry things out. Unfortunately, that sets us up with a situation that we have now where there is a lot of vegetation that grew up in the winter time and is now ready to burn.”
Dry conditions produced the lowest May rainfall totals on Kauai since 2009 at Mount Waialeale, Kalaheo and the Wailua University of Hawaii Experiment station, according to the NWS.
For 2019 through May, most of the rain gauges across Kauai had near-to-below rainfall average totals. The low elevation leeward areas had totals less than 50 percent of the year-to-date average. Mount Waialeale had the highest total of 105.70 inches, 68 percent of average. This was the second-highest year-to-date total in the state.
Kokee saw 4.2 inches of precipitation in May, which was 129 percent of the average rainfall for the month. Makaha Ridge saw 3.1 inches of precipitation in May, which was 179 percent of the average monthly amount of 1.77 inches. Waimea Heights saw 1.70 inches of precipitation in May, which was 173 percent of the normal average of .98 inches.
The higher-than-normal precipitation amounts on the Westside in May were a result of a cold front passage. June precipitation data is not yet available by the NWS, but with the forecast predicting temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s for the coming week, the drought conditions could worsen.
During June of last year, rainfall totals were near-to-above average at most of the gauges on Kauai.
Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.