By ERIN MILLER
Stephens Media Hawaii
Hawaii is in for a normal to slightly wetter than usual rainy season, but the predicted rainfall levels are unlikely to bring lasting relief to the Big Island’s driest areas, forecasters said Friday.
The National Weather Service released its rainy season outlook, for the season running last month through April.
Residents can also expect “an early entry of dry seasons, with drier than average conditions starting in April,” said Kevin Kodama, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
While the rain heading Hawaii’s way may be enough to bring Kauai and Oahu out of drought conditions, it’s not going to be good enough for Maui and Hawaii Island, Kodama said.
“We’re looking at the potential for some improvement, but drought will probably remain through the wet season, particularly in ranch and agricultural lands,” he added.
Maui and the Big Island would need “good, soaking rain events” to reverse the effects of the recent droughts on those islands, he said.
The drought in those two counties has been too intense and too long lasting to be easily overcome with average rainfall, he added.
On Hawaii Island, some areas, such as near Pohakuloa Training Area in the island’s center, have been named extreme drought areas. Parts of Kohala and South Point were under a severe drought designation, Kodama said. Most areas of the island have experienced at least some drought conditions this year, he added.
Mike Cantin, the weather service’s warning coordination meteorologist in Honolulu, said windward parts of Hawaii Island may see some improvement to dry conditions that have spread there through the last drought season.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said long-term conditions are considered ENSO-Neutral, that is neither El Nino nor La Nina systems. Kodama said that neutral state will allow for average rainfall through the early part of next year.
Last year’s rainy season extended slightly longer than usual, with several heavy rains in May. Two tropical storm systems, Flossie and Gus, also brought rain to several of the main Hawaiian Islands, Kodama said.
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