- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Severe drought conditions have lessened slightly on the Big Island’s west side thanks to heavier-than-normal rains in leeward areas last month. But the normally rainier east side of the island had less than average precipitation.

The reverse pattern is related to fewer trade winds and the arrival of several cold fronts, National Weather Service hydrologist Kevin Kodama told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (https://bit.ly/1dkNOlq ). Cold fronts usually drop rain on the west side’s north-facing slopes, Kodama said.

Some pastures are growing grass again, though growth is still sparse in places like leeward South Kohala. Grass needs to be reseeded in some areas because the ground has been dry for so long.

Kaloko-Honokohau had more than double the volume of its average January rainfall of 2.15 inches. Kealakekua and Honaunau also had more rain than normal.

In the last several months, Kau and Pohakuloa area earned less severe ratings on the national drought monitor.

“The drought has been getting a lot better,” Kodama said.

Kodama said the west side needs more rain before the dry season returns in May. He said the Climate Prediction Center was still forecasting above normal rainfall for the next couple months.

On the island’s east side, meanwhile, many communities recorded lower-than-average rainfall in January.

Mountain View normally gets more than 14 inches of rain in January but saw only 3.29 inches last month. A rain gauge at Hilo Airport measured 5.66 inches, about 61 percent of the town’s usual January amount.

Pahoa had 64 percent of its average rainfall with 7.12 inches.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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