Rainy Season Outlook
By Jack Kiyonaga, Community Reporter
Good news: it is going to rain more, at least according to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) most recent predictions for this year’s wet season.
As Molokai residents know, a drought has persisted on the island, especially on the west and southwestern regions. While these areas of Molokai are currently rated as “severe to extreme drought,” recent rainfall “should result in some improvement,” according to Kevin Kodama , NOAA Senior Service Hydrologist at the Honolulu Forecast Office.
The U.S. Drought Monitor, a national metric of drought conditions, currently lists western portions of the island as D3 or “extreme drought,” the fourth of five levels of drought. East Molokai, in contrast, shows no drought. Kodama concurred, saying “East Molokai is in good shape, especially east of Puko’o.”
As the state of Hawaii enters a seldom seen third consecutive year in a La Niña weather pattern, it is Maui County and Hawaii Island which have felt the heaviest effects of drought. With widespread damage to agriculture and increased risk of forest fire and erosion, NOAA’s projected “above average precipitation in the large scale across the region” is much needed.
The strength of La Niña, which is a cooling of surface water in the Pacific Ocean, will determine the extent of rainfall. The weaker La Niña is, the better the chance of pulling out of drought conditions.
And while more rain doesn’t always mean solving a drought, Kodama explained that “a smaller island like Molokai…has a better chance of having drought relief over the leeward areas.”
As such, Molokai residents should “expect to see at least one category of improvement in the [U.S. Drought Monitor] by the end of April, if not complete removal,” said Kodama.
Kodama urged residents to take necessary precautions for flash flooding and wished all “a safe wet season.”