East Hawaii News

Drought-Stricken Areas Saw Some Relief in May

June 11, 2013, 6:04 PM HST
* Updated June 12, 11:13 AM
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May was a wet month in some areas of the Big Island that have been needing moisture the most.

Much of the island’s leeward side has been gripped in a years-long drought.

This past winter some areas of South Kohala endured their fifth straight wet season with little rainfall, the National Weather Service said in early May.

However, more consistent trade wind weather helped bring much-needed showers last month.

Waikoloa received 1.45 inches in May, compared to 2.51 inches for all of 2012.

The average annual rainfall in Waikoloa is 12.72 inches.

In North Kohala, Kahua Ranch received 5.87 inches of rain last month.

That’s more than twice what it saw during the first four months of the year. It’s also more than a quarter of what it received in 2012, when it received 35% of normal rainfall.

Closer to the Big Island’s leeward coast, the largely residential Kohala Ranch saw 3.38 inches in May, which is more than five times the norm for the month. That brought its yearly amount to 5.90 inches, 80% of its average for this time of year.

The US Department of Agriculture’s crop weather report for the week ending June 9 said the recent rains are “greening up the landscape.”

Pastures in North and South Kohala are showing “remarkable improvement” from the precipitation received in the previous month, the report said. “Previously, these areas have been severely impacted by the drought, now forage is slowly growing in ….”

Puuanahulu in North Kona has already received 7.05 inches in 2013 – nearly half of which fell in May. That is just under the 7.48 it received all of last year, which was only 29% of average rainfall.

Closer to the coast, 3.94 inches have fallen at Kaupulehu this year. That already exceeds its 2012 rainfall of 3.75 inches, which was 21% of what is seen in an average year.

However, the dry conditions in Waimea that prompted the issuance of a water conservation notice on May 1 have barely eased.

May’s rainfall in the area’s three gauges ranged from 58% to 79% of normal for the month, leaving them all below half of normal levels for this time of the year.

According to the county Department of Water Supply website, the voluntary 10% reduction in usage remains in effect.

Most areas on the wetter windward side of the Big Island saw nearly normal rainfall in May, although both Hilo airport’s 8.43 inches and Piihonua’s 13.57 inches were slightly above average for the month.

Those two locations have annual average precipitation of 126.72 inches and 185.75 inches, respectively.

In most parts of Hilo and Puna, rainfall is running about three-quarters of normal levels for the first five months of the year.

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