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For Fifth Year in a Row, Wet Season Dry in South Kohala

May 10, 2013, 1:40 PM HST
* Updated May 10, 5:41 PM
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While the western part of the state has seem some rain relief of late, some areas of the leeward side of the Big Island remain firmly in the grip of a severe drought, the National Weather Service said in a report issued Thursday.

NWS hydrologist Kevin Kodama said areas considered under “D3” or extreme drought conditions include the Pohakuloa region of the Hamakua District and the makai region of South Kohala including Kawaihae and Puako.

He said for the fifth year in a row, the dry conditions persisted through the winter, which is considered the wet season.

Other areas of South Kohala, as well as the upper slopes of the North and South Kona districts, are classified as suffering severe drought conditions, Kodama said.

The ongoing drought prompted the county Department of Water Supply to recently issue a warning to its customers from Waimea to Kawaihae that the voluntary water conservation notice currently in effect could be changed to mandatory measures if reservoir levels keep dropping.

The wettest area on the west side of the Big Island in 2012 was Kealakekua where rain measures gauges recorded just under 29 inches for the year, which was 51% of normal levels.

Most areas there were running at a third or less of average levels.

A weather service gauge in Waikoloa recorded just 2.51 inches in 2012, which is 20% of what is received in an average year. Kona International Airport located north of Kailua-Kona received 3.77 inches last year, 21% of normal precipitation.

Kodama said Maui has had extreme drought conditions over the southwest slope of Haleakela for the past two wet seasons.

Meanwhile, dry conditions continue to ease in portions of West Molokai.

Kodama said late-season cold fronts brought rains to Oahu. He said several rain gauges in West Oahu recorded their highest totals in more than 20 years.

There are also currently no drought conditions on Kauai.

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