Thursday | July 28, 2016
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Dry times

A sunny September delighted beachgoers but worried some farmers, with most Hawaii Island rain gauges registering less than half the typical rainfall.

But year-to-date figures compiled by the National Weather Service Forecast Office show rainfall from Jan. 1 through the end of September to be close to, or just below, average.

Farmers on both the windward and leeward sides of the island said their crops haven’t been harmed by shortfalls of rain, although Kanalani Ohana Farm’s Colehour Bondera said there were some close calls. The Bonderas grow organic Kona coffee in addition to fruits and vegetables.

Kanalani Ohana is located in Honaunau, which saw just shy of 5 inches of rain last month. It’s currently sitting at 65 percent of the average 41.11-inch year-to-date rainfall.

“It worried us for a while,” Bondera said. “It was dry-dry. It was strange that we would be having dry season behavior when it’s not the dry season.”

Still, he said, there was enough rain for a good crop without having to resort to irrigation.

Jim Riley, of Mountain View Growers, relies on rainfall to keep his ponds full for hydroponic strawberries, tomatoes and vegetables.

“I haven’t had an issue with water,” Riley said. “I haven’t had to buy water.”

Mountain View has had a trace over 90 inches of rain so far this year, just 69 percent of the 131.1 inches it normally has by now. Nearby Pahoa has had 71 percent of the 97.9 inches it normally has by now. And Glenwood, which typically has 172.2 inches, the most rainfall on the island by the end of September, has experienced just 54 percent, or 92.9 inches.

The wet spot on the island so far this year is Kawainui Stream in the Kohala Mountains, with 101.23 inches, about 94 percent of its average year-to-date. The driest spot was Kona International Airport at Keahole, with its 3.8 inches of rain just 29 percent of average year-to-date rainfall for the area.

Two rain gauges in Waimea, meanwhile, posted their lowest September totals within data records going back to 1991.

Rainy Hilo wasn’t nearly as rainy as usual, providing lots of beach days for area residents and visitors. Hilo International Airport had a near normal daily rainfall frequency but the average rainfall per day was less than half of normal.

The rain gauge at the airport showed Hilo had 3.6 inches in September, 37 percent of the average 9.9 inches. But year-to-date rainfall was 76 percent of the typical 89.9 inches for the period.