Maui News

Wet Season Outlook Calls for Return of Drought

October 28, 2015, 3:32 PM HST
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Wailuku Rain. 8/18/15. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Wailuku Rain. 8/18/15. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center released its wet season outlook saying probabilities favor below average rainfall through the spring of 2016.

The forecast calls for drought development to start in the latter part of 2015, and worsen during early 2016.  Forecasters say they expect significantly below average rain totals, especially from December through April, with many areas seeing less than 50% of average rainfall.

The Wet Season Outlook is for the period covering October 2015 to April 2016.

NOAA forecasters have called this year’s El Nino event the strongest since 1997-1998, and say it may end up being the strongest in over 50 years.

While El Nino conditions have resulted in a busier that usual hurricane season in the Central Pacific, the conditions are forecast to bring an earlier start to the brush fire season in Hawaiʻi, result in widespread moderate drought (D1) with “embedded areas of severe drought (D2) expected by the end of April.”

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The Climate Prediction Center released information saying, “Much fewer heavy rain events expected in the 2015 – 2016 wet season but we should still be prepared if an isolated event occurs.”

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Forecasters urge residents not to become complacent with dry weather, noting that fast moving systems could still bring rainfall with thunder, lightning and strong winds that can hit hard, but last only briefly.

The wet weather forecast also calls for a higher probability of large surf events in the islands.

Taking a look back on the dry season, which ran from May through September 2015, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center noted that Hawaiʻi was drought free for the first time since April 15, 2008 as most locations received near or above average rainfall.

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Thanks to above average cyclone activity, increased rainfall made the dry season the wettest it has been in the last 30 years, according to the NOAA report.  The hurricane season in Hawaiʻi traditionally continues through the end of November.

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