|JOSH GREEN, M.D.
(HONOLULU) – The Hawai‘i Drought Council is a collaborative group of government leaders, non-government organizations, water suppliers, and agricultural interests that meets periodically to receive updates on the state’s current drought conditions and outlook.
At its January meeting Kevin Kodama, a National Weather Service senior service hydrologist, reported that while El Niño conditions remain in place over Hawai‘i, the predicted dry-weather patterns usually associated with El Niño have not materialized as severely as expected.
“It’s difficult to predict climate anomalies. The ocean is saying El Niño is in place, with sea surface temperatures near the equator above average. Clearly, the atmosphere did not get the memo over Hawai‘i,” Kodama explained.
Lessening drought conditions across the state is the result of significant rainfall in December and January. As of Feb. 1, the U.S. Drought Monitor is showing more of North and East Hawai‘i Island continuing to experience abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions. On Maui, a small sliver of West Maui is abnormally dry, with the remainder of the state not showing drought – for now.
Kodama told the council, “Climate models favored below-average rainfall into the start of the 2024 winter season. That was not the case in December and January. We are still expecting drier than normal conditions through the rest of the wet season that ends April 30, and into the start of the May-through-September dry season. El Niño is predicted to die out in the spring and maybe switch to La Niña in the summer.”
Severe impacts to drinking and agricultural water supplies have been avoided so far but based on NWS forecast models there’s still potential for an early dry season, which could lead to potential shortages for homes with water catchment systems.
The Honolulu Board of Water Supply reported to the council that ground wells are normal and are recharging with recent precipitation, but if O‘ahu enters summer with low levels of water in wells, that is a concern.
In preparation, the council is preparing an awareness campaign to bring water conservation messages and tips to residents and visitors alike. The ‘Treat Every Drop Like a Gift’ campaign is expected to kick off prior to the start of Hawai‘i’s dry season.
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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)
HD video – North Kohala, Hawai‘i Island drought conditions (August 2023):
Photographs – North Kohala moderate drought conditions (June 28, 2023):
U.S. Drought Monitor (Feb.1, 2024):