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I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain: Continual rains bring a wetter August

September 4, 2015 - 6:29am

Floods and fires have marked the wet season on Hawaii Island.

The remains of a fire that scoured the Kawaihae area from Aug. 8 to 12 have largely been washed clean by the heavy rains that struck the area.

Forecaster Ray Tanabe said that the heavy rains were the result of the atmospheric effects of El Nino. Because of the topographic characteristics of the Waikoloa-Waimea region, the area tends to see heavier rain than the rest of the leeward region, he said.

On Wednesday, there were no road closures because of the heavy rains. The police did issue an advisory to drivers to avoid using Waikoloa Road from mile marker 5 to the Highway 190 intersection, and Highway 190 between Puunanahulu and Waimea because of flooding on the roadway.

“Both roadways remain open, however extreme caution AND DECREASED SPEED should be exercised if travel in these areas are necessary,” police said in a release Wednesday, using capital letters to emphasize that drivers should slow down.

That area of the island has seen multiple road closures and advisories throughout the wet season.

The island was also under a flash flood watch from 3:30 a.m. to midnight Thursday.

With 2.99 inches of rain on Wednesday, the most rainfall recorded on the leeward side was at Kiholo, according to NWS rain gauges. Waikoloa recieved 1.94 inches and Puuanahulu recorded 1.73 inches.

Other areas recieved varying amounts. Kona International Airport saw trace amounts of rainfall and Pahala saw about a third of an inch.

The increased rainfall has also brought relief to areas of the island that have been experiencing drought for years, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is kept by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Some 62.67 percent of the island was listed as either abnormally dry or suffering from drought level five during the week of Aug. 4. This dropped to 57.32 percent during the week of Aug. 11 and 49.64 percent on Aug. 25.

The moderate drought condition ruled over 24.09 percent of the island at the beginning of the month, dropping to 21.87 percent in the week of Aug. 25.

“Rainfall data uncertainty in Hawaii this week resulted in no changes to the depiction, pending reassessment next week,” wrote the Anthony Artusa, a forecaster with the national drought mitigation center. The island’s drought was likely to disappear over the next week, according to a map prepared by forecaster David Miskus. The map also shows the other islands seeing their droughts disappearing.

Last year was much less affected by drought in August. In the first week, 32.39 percent of the island was abnormally dry, which vanished in the week of Aug. 12.

2013 was a year with severe drought. In the first week, the entire Big Island was in some level of drought, including 2.98 percent in extreme drought, one level from the highest. This improved slightly through the month, leaving 89.08 percent.

In his forecast for September, Miskus wrote that the drought conditions would likely improve throughout the month.

“This would be welcome as strong El Nino events typically bring dryness during the winter and spring,” he wrote.

The forecast for the weekend showed variable chances of rain for every day, varying from 20 to 30 percent chance of showers.

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