State of Hawaii
Seasonal Precipitation Summary
The climate in the Hawaiian islands during the 2009 calendar year was generally drier than normal, with the rain gauges at the Lihue, Honolulu, and Kahului airports receiving 67, 63, and 71 percent of normal, respectively. Only the Hilo airport received average rainfall (104 percent of normal). In Hawai’i, El Niño events tend to bring dry winters to the islands, and the 2009-2010 winter was no exception. Drought conditions are most likely during the October - March time period of an El Niño event.
In October 2009, a tropical storm passed south of the main islands, then veered to the North and traveled through the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National monument as Hurricane Neki. Rescue efforts were coordinated by NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette and the U.S. Coast Guard to retrieve Fish and Wildlife and NOAA personnel off these low-lying atolls prior to the storm.
The 1st quarter of 2010 saw persistent dry conditions throughout the Hawaiian Islands. During January, the western and southern regions of Maui and the Big Island faced extreme drought conditions (D3), and at that time Hawai’i was the only state in the U.S. with areas in this drought category. Hawai’i made national news on February 27th when a tsunami warning was issued in response to an 8.8 magnitude earthquake off the coast of central Chile. This quake was similar in location and magnitude to the 1960 earthquake, which generated a tsunami that destroyed much of downtown Hilo. Luckily, by the time the 2010 tsunami reached the islands, wave energy had dissipated substantially and no serious damage or loss of life was reported.
The months of March and April saw the return of persistent trade winds to the state of Hawai’i, bringing increased rainfall to windward slopes and easing dry conditions in those areas. This corresponded with the weakening of both the atmospheric and oceanic components of the current El Niño event. Unfortunately, only limited amounts of rainfall occurred on leeward sides of the larger islands in March , and significant drought conditions continue on portions of the Big Island and Molokai.
Additional individual rainfall station information and specific island information for Hawaii can be found in the Monthly Precipitation Summaries.
Hawaii Rainfall Summary for Select Stations, 1st Quarter 2010 and Annual 2009
Climate Outlook: The following comments are from the US Climate Prediction Center’s Seasonal Outlook Discussion:
“Drier than normal conditions are expected over Hawai’i and some U.S.-Affiliated islands during the next season based on current conditions in the tropical pacific and on results from historical studies on the effects of warm episodes. NCEP models predict a tendency for below normal temperatures for Hawai’i for May, June, and July (MJJ) 2010. Below median precipitation for Hawai’i is expected for MJJ 2010 based on the El Niño composite and NCEP forecast tools.”