Heavy Rainfall in Stricken Hawaii
Late this week, a powerful storm with substantial rainfall will hit Hawaii’s drought-stricken island chain, but this much-needed rain might also cause flash flooding and mudslides.
According to the United States Drought Monitor, Hawaii is abnormally dry as of Dec. 1, with around 2,733 square foot of the Hawaiian Islands in extreme drought. Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, received only 3% of its usual rainfall throughout November, and the same can be stated from the beginning of October. In fact, the city has only received 10% of its typical precipitation since July 1.
The drought has also wreaked havoc on the Big Island. Throughout the month of November, Hilo received barely a fraction of its typical rainfall, less than 40%. November rainfall in Kailua was only 12 percent of usual.
Meteorologist said when winds from the east flow down from the mountains, they can reduce precipitation and cause the ground to dry out. As the drought continues, sugar cane planted on the island may become highly flammable.
As a front approaches and travels southeastward, heavy rain and even flooding is forecast to begin Friday morning and linger through Saturday, especially across the northern islands.
“That storm will drive a moisture-rich front over the islands this weekend, perhaps causing heavy rain and localized flooding on the Big Island,” said Meteorologist who added that the front might be coupled with a Kona low.
Kona lows arise when a southward dip in the jet stream breaks off and flows in a circular pattern, and they come from the western or southwestern part of the islands.
In the late fall, winter, and early spring, Hawaii usually receives two to three Kona lows. Rain, hail, and flash flooding are all potential risks, as can mudslides, severe winds, and even high-altitude snow.
This front may stall over the islands, allowing rain to fall incessantly. Despite the recent drought, flash flooding remains a severe threat because the land is unable to absorb rain at the rate and amount that it pours when it is dry.
High winds are also expected from the front, with wind gusts of more than 60 mph expected at Haleakala’s summit during the weekend. Mudslides are also a possibility due to the storm.
Another concern associated with this event is power outages, as the ground will be more unstable and moist, allowing trees to easily be blown over. Motorists should never cross a flooded street, according to forecasters, because the water may be deeper than expected and moving quickly.
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