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January 2014 Precipitation Summary
State of Hawaii
MONTH: January 2014
PREPARED: February 10, 2014
Note: This summary uses the arithmetic mean, or average, for “normal” rainfall values.
State: [Text data table for rain gages]
January produced a progressive weather pattern with low pressure systems in the northwest Pacific pushing cold fronts across the main Hawaiian Islands. Unlike the December frontal systems, several of the cold fronts in January were able to sweep across the entire state instead of stalling and dissipating near Kauai and Oahu. The strongest of these systems occurred on January 22 and was accompanied by strong, cool northwest winds and monster surf along the north- and west-facing shores. The front produced heavy showers along its leading edge but in most areas its rapid movement resulted in rainfall totals of mostly less than an inch with a few spots getting 1 to 3 inches and no significant flooding problems. The main exception was in south Maui where nearly 6 inches of rainfall occurred in the pre-frontal southerlies near the Kaupo area which resulted in flooding in Hawelewele Gulch. Flood waters briefly closed Piilani Highway near mile markers 30 and 31. Weaker cold fronts reached the island chain on January 2, January 16, and January 26. These frontal systems produced event totals in the 1 to 3 inch range and just some localized minor flooding.
Another significant rain event was caused by the remnant of the January 26 front which dissipated east of the Big Island. The remnant frontal moisture was pushed back into the windward slopes of the state on January 28 through 30 and became enhanced by an upper level low pressure system which destabilized the low level airmass. Several locations recorded 2 to 5 inches of rainfall spread out over the 3-day period. The broader time distribution helped mitigate significant flooding impacts.
Island of Kauai : [January 2014 map]
Most of the gages on Kauai reported near to above average rainfall totals for January. The passage of several mostly shallow cold fronts during the month with its moist northwesterly to northerly low level flow shifted the area of maximum rainfall from Mount Waialeale to the northwestern quadrant of the island. As a result, the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Kilohana rain gage near Kokee State Park reported the highest monthly total of 17.65 inches (117 percent of average). The highest daily total of 3.29 inches also came from Kilohana on January 27 in the moist northerly flow following a weak cold front passage the previous day. Mount Waialeale, normally the wettest every month, had 12.54 inches recorded at the USGS’ gage, which was only 51 percent of average.
Island of Oahu: [January 2014 map]
Most of the gages on Oahu posted below average rainfall totals for the month of January. As is usually the case, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) gage had the highest monthly total of 12.05 inches (70 percent of average). This gage also recorded the highest daily total of 4.62 inches on January 29 from enhanced trade wind shower conditions. A few locations received above average monthly rainfall, such as the Olomana Fire Station which recorded 6.60 inches (134 percent of average), making it the wettest January since 2004.
Maui County: [Maui January 2014 map][Molokai/Lanai January 2014 map]
In what has been a rarity during recent years, most of the gages across Maui County recorded above average rainfall totals. The National Park Service’s Puu Alii gage on Molokai had the highest monthly total of 17.85 inches (141 percent of average). The Molokai 1, Kaunakakai Mauka, and Kamalo gages also indicated above average totals that registered as the wettest January since 2005. Kaupo Gap had the highest daily total of 5.81 inches on January 22 during a cold front passage across the island. This daily total was a significant fraction of the 16.54 inches (114 percent of average) for the month, which was the highest January total at this site since 2004. The gage at Ulupalakua Ranch, another south Maui site, also had its wettest January since 2004 with 6.35 inches (135 percent of average).
Island of Hawaii: [January 2014 map]
Monthly totals from the Big Island gages were mostly in the near to above average range. Several of the gages on the leeward Kohala and Kona slopes logged the highest January totals since 2005. In contrast, South Hilo and Puna District gages showed mostly below average totals due to the lack of trade winds during the month and the passage of several cold fronts which tends to favor rainfall on the western slopes and northern slopes of the island. The highest monthly total of 15.95 inches (110 percent of average) was posted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Island Dairy gage. This site also had the highest daily total of 5.24 inches on January 27.
Data Sources: Data used in this report are largely from National Weather Service sources including climate network weather observation stations at Lihue, Honolulu, Kahului, and Hilo, the Hydronet state network of automated rain gages, and selected Cooperative Observer sites. Additional data come from automated rain gages operated by the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. National Park Service, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Averages come from the National Climatic Data Center (1981-2010 series) and the Rainfall Atlas of Hawaii (http://rainfall.geography.hawaii.edu/). Data presented here are not certified and should be used for informational purposes only.
Kevin R. Kodama
Senior Service Hydrologist
NOAA/NWS Weather Forecast Office Honolulu