January rains refresh East Hawaii

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald A couple crosses a soggy Haili Street huddled under an umbrella in January in downtown Hilo.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu says January brought a refreshing boost of rainfall to East Hawaii Island.

“The windward side is pretty wet, meaning the Hilo area, Puna,” said Kevin Kodama, NWS hydrologist.


Hilo International Airport and Pahoa had their highest rainfall totals for January since 2002 and “Mountain View has not recorded this much rain (in January) since 2004,” according to Wednesday’s NWS January Precipitation Summary.

Much of East Hawaii entered drought status during the fall. But that has ended, Kodama said. The National Drought Monitor now lists all of East Hawaii, including all of the Hamakua Coast, as drought-free.

The west half of the island is “abnormally dry” instead of in drought. Portions of South Kohala and North Kona remain listed as “moderate drought” — the only spot on the island still in drought, despite lower rainfall amounts in January for West Hawaii.

“While many sites across the state were experiencing dry conditions, the windward slopes of the Big Island were drenched during the second half of the month,” the NWS report says. “Near- to above-average rainfall totals were recorded from Laupahoehoe in the North Hilo District to Keaumo in the Puna District.”

Kodama said the coffee growing areas of South Kona had been getting rain in December, except at low elevations. But totals for January “were really low — even farther upslope,” he said.

The forecast for the days ahead was uncertain Wednesday, so it’s not clear if Kona will get its much-needed rain.

“We’ll see what happens over the next few days,” he said.

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.


January rain totals

Glenwood — 18.62 inches, 96 percent of the average 19.45 inches

Hilo International Airport — 14.63 inches, 158 percent of the average 9.26 inches

Honokaa — 3.17 inches, 31 percent of the average 10.08 inches

Island Dairy — 1.16 inches, 8 percent of the average 14.55 inches

Keaumo — 7.24 inches, 121 percent of the average 5.96 inches

Kona International Airport — .06 inches, 2 percent of the average 2.41 inches

Laupahoehoe — 12.57 inches, 95 percent of the average 13.22 inches

Mauna Loa — .73 inches, 32 percent of the average 2.27 inches

Mountain View — 19.15 inches, 141 percent of the average 13.54 inches

Pahala — .4 inches, 12 percent of the average 3.26 inches

Pahoa — 19.86 inches, 178 percent of the average 11.15 inches

Papaikou — 18.3 inches, 120 percent of the average 15.29 inches

Saddle Quarry — 30.92 inches, 296 percent of the average 10.46 inches


Waikoloa — .12 inches, 6 percent of the average 1.99 inches

Email Jeff Hansel at jhansel@hawaiitribune-herald.com.