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June rainfall sets records at both ends of spectrum

June was a mixed bag, weather-wise, for the Big Island, with three gauges in windward North Hawaii posting their lowest June totals on record and two Ka‘u spots posting unusually high rainfall totals.

“The wide range of conditions on the Big Island produced monthly rainfall records for both the lowest and highest totals,” said Kevin Kodama, National Weather Service’s Honolulu hydrologist in the agency’s monthly rainfall summary.

Honokaa saw a paltry 0.17 inches of rain for the month, a mere 17 percent of the 4.62 inches the Hamakua hamlet averages in June. Other record lows for the month include Waimea, with 0.65 inches, 17 percent of its usual 3.77 inches, and upper Waimea, with 1.13 inches, 30 percent of its June norm of 3.78 inches.

Those locations, as well as most windward gauges, are still lagging below their year-to-date averages, however. Upper Waimea tallied 30.58 inches of rain through the first half of 2019, 89 percent of its average, while Waimea has recorded 28.59 inches so far this year, 85 percent of its normal total.

“Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, Pahala had its highest June total ever and nearby Kapapala Ranch had its wettest June since 1982,” Kodama said.

Pahala’s gauge recorded a robust rainfall of 5.36 inches, 2.6 times its June norm of 2.06 inches, while Kapapala tallied 4.71 inches, 238 percent of its June average of 1.98 inches.

“Along the west side of the Big Island, the Kona slopes wet season is well under way with the gauges at Kealakekua, Honaunau, and Waiaha Stream posting measurable rainfall on most of the days in June,” Kodama said.

Waiaha saw the heaviest rainfall, 7.96 inches, 1 1/2 times its June average of 5.28 inches. Kealakekua received 6.88 inches, 114 percent of its norm, while 6.42 inches fell at Honaunau, five percent above its June average.

Those locations are in Kona’s coffee belt, with the rain coming as good news to farmers there. Those locations saw above average rainfall for the first half of the year, as well.

Another west side wet spot was Kohala Ranch, which recorded 2.76 inches of rain, almost four times its June average of 0.71 inches. It’s been an unusually rainy year at the upslope Kohala location, with 14.68 inches of rain so far, more than twice its norm.

Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport was a bit wetter than normal for June, with 1.1 inches compared to its normal 0.97 inches. It’s also been a dry year, so far, for the airport, with 4.19 inches of rainfall for the first six months of the year, less than half its usual 10 inches.

Most windward rain gauges have also been drier than normal, both for the month and the year.

Hilo International Airport reported 3.9 inches of rain in June, a bit more than half its norm. For the year, the airport has received 38.43 inches of rain, 65 percent of its average January to June total of 59.28 inches.

Mountain View was wetter, with 6.78 inches for June, 58 percent of its norm of 11.63 inches. It’s also a drier-than-usual year in the upper Puna village, with 59.86 inches through the first six months, 71 percent of its accustomed 84 inches.

“Because the winds were a little south of east, that resulted in the rain getting into portions of the Ka‘u District, but not getting into Hamakua and Kohala,” Kodama said. “That should change. We should start seeing more normal winds after Sunday-ish. I think all the windward side, up through Hawi, windward Kohala, should get some of their rainfall back.”

The remnants of the former Hurricane Barbara should soon have an effect on Big Island rainfall, Kodama said.

“You’ll probably see a bump up in the rainfall early next week. That should affect mainly the windward slopes and potentially the Kona slopes. I don’t think we’re going to see a whole lot up in South Kohala.”

As of 5 p.m. Friday, Tropical Storm Barbara was 1,230 miles east of Hilo, moving west at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph. It was forecast to dissipate further and should be a tropical depression or remnant low-pressure system by today and is expected to pass near the Big Island late Sunday or early Monday.

Email John Burnett at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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