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December deluge follows not-so-wet November

The deluge from the “Kona low” winter weather system that marked the beginning of December came on the heels of a November with below average rainfall for most of the Big Island, according to the National Weather Service.

In what is normally a very rainy month on the windward side of the island, the only gauge in a populated area measuring rainfall in double digits was the Papaikou Well, with 10.44 inches — and that is a shade less than half its average November total.

Other spots in East Hawaii had underwhelming rainfall totals last month.

Hilo International Airport logged 5.89 inches of rain, 41% of its November norm.

Piihonua, upslope from Hilo town, just missed double-digit rainfall with 9.98 inches, but that was just 51% of its usual rainfall for the month.

And Glenwood, in the upper Puna rainforest, reported 7.5 inches of rainfall, 30% of its November average of 25.18 inches.

Hilo and Piihonua had slightly above average yearly rainfall totals by month’s end, with 112.98 inches and 117.42 inches, respectively. Glenwood tallied an 11-month total of 173.18 inches of rain, but that was only 81% of its year-to-date average of 214.63 inches.

The Kona coffee belt, which sees its rainy season in the summer months, was even drier than usual in November.

Honaunau was the wettest coffee belt spot, with 0.88 inches, 28% of its usual 3.12 inches November total.

Waiaha logged 0.63 inches, 23% of average for the month. Kealakekua reported 0.59 inches, 18% of its November norm. And Kainaliu measured 0.25 inches, only 8% of its average November.

“After a year of mostly above average rainfall along the slopes of the South Kona district, rain gauges in the area have reported a second consecutive month of below average rainfall,” Kevin Kodama, senior service hydrologist for the NWS in Honolulu noted in his monthly summary.

Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole tallied just 0.13 inches of rain in November, 16% of its arid norm of 0.83 inches.

Droughts in leeward areas of the Big Island worsened in November, according to Kodama.

“Kahua Ranch, Kamuela Upper and Upolu Airport … all had their lowest November totals since 2002. The Honokaa and Kamuela sites both had their lowest November totals since 2005,” he said. The rainiest of the aforementioned spots was Honokaa, with 1.97 inches.

Kodama said a South Kohala rancher “reported having to haul feed and water” and removed cattle from some pastures.

In Ka‘u, South Point had 4.5 inches, slightly above its November norm, but Kodama said ranchers there “reported very poor forage conditions and … have been hauling feed to support their cattle.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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