El Niño is responsible for creating stable and dry weather patterns across the state and
increasing the drought severity in December for leeward areas of Big Island, south and west areas
of Maui, and the western third of Molokai. Pasture lands are severely degraded on all three of
these islands, and ranchers are facing losses and culling their herds. The Big Island, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu
have water use restrictions in effect for irrigation or public water consumption. The south and west-facing
slopes of the Big Island remain at high risk for brush fires and have recently experienced fires in the South
Kona district. In Maui County, the south and west-facing slopes of Molokai and Maui are also at high risk for
brush fires. The presence of El Niño conditions means that probabilities favor below normal precipitation, and
this trend will most likely continue through Spring 2010.
El Niño has also brought big swells to the North Shore of Oahu. On December 7, Waimea Bay received
over 40 ft waves, the largest swell in years. The Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau surf contest was held,
and the waves were bigger than in any of the past three events. Big swells continued throughout December,
and north-facing shores had a high surf advisory during mid-January.