February Rainfall Totals Below Average
With just two months left of the rainy season, only December has so far provided wet conditions, according to a National Weather Service hydrologist. And Kaua’i hasn’t escaped the dry conditions.
Since early January, the central North Pacific has been stuck in a weather pattern with the jet stream splitting to the north of the state, and the main Hawaiian Islands mostly under the dry and stable portion of the large scale circulation, reported Kevin Kodama, NWS senior service hydrologist, in his monthly precipitation summary for February.
“During the month of February, this has produced a higher than normal frequency of trade winds, but with wind speeds only at light to moderate intensities,” wrote Kodama in the summary. “The trade wind inversion has also been rather low during most of the days, which has restricted the vertical growth of clouds, resulting in lower than average amounts of rainfall across the state.”
All of the rain gauges around Kauaʻi posted below average totals for February.
Records for the lowest February rainfall total were broken at the Hanapēpē, ʻŌmaʻo and Wailua UH Experiment Station gauges. Līhuʻe Airport and Līhuʻe Variety Station had their lowest February rainfall totals since 2000.
The highest monthly total of 5.08 inches came from the U.S. Geological Survey’s gauge on top of Mount Waiʻaleʻale, but this total was just 21% of the February average. This site also had the island’s highest daily total of just 0.84 inches on Feb. 6.
Nearly all of the rain gauges on Kauaʻi had below average rainfall totals for 2022 through the end of February. Only Līhuʻe Airport had a near average total because of wet conditions in early January.
The Mount Waiʻaleʻale gauge had the highest year-to-date total of 15.74 inches, or 32% of average.
There was some relief for parts of the state from the dry conditions last month, but only briefly.
During the middle of the month, a low pressure system aloft centered northeast of the state provided enough instability to enhance rainfall over portions of the Big Island and Maui County.
During the night of Feb. 13, heavy rainfall produced minor flooding along the Hāmākua Coast on the Big Island. According to the summary, rain gauges and radar data indicated 2-4 inches of rainfall from Laupāhoehoe to Honokaʻa. A rock slide at Maulua Gulch near Laupahoehoe briefly closed the Māmalahoa Highway.
Another bout of heavy rainfall occurred during the afternoon of Feb. 15, in this case along the slopes of the Ka’u District on the Big Island and over the Ulupalakua area of Haleakala on Maui. Rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches produced minor flooding, with no reports of significant impacts.
The prolonged dryness since early January also has resulted in the return of moderate to severe drought to most of the state because of very low rainfall, stream flow levels and deteriorating pasture conditions.
For the latest drought information throughout the state, refer to the Drought Information Statement.