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This is the Rainy Season?

December 27, 2012
Photo taken today (12/27/12) of Pu'ukohola Heiau. This is the rainy season?

Photo taken this afternoon (12/27/12) at Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site. This is the rainy season?

Over the past several years we have shared with you about the ongoing drought conditions affecting some of our national parks here in Hawaii. One park in particular has consistently seen severe to extreme drought conditions during this time. Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, located on the northwest side of the Big Island of Hawaii has seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of precipitation. According to the latest data, the park has only received 2.9 inches of rain during all of 2012.

Flood waters cascade over this rare waterfall at Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site a few years back.

Flood waters cascade over this rare waterfall at Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site a few years back. (Note, the pool of water is actually about 20 feet deep!)

Although the park is located in an area that is usually much drier than other parts of the Hawaiian Island chain, this drought is still pretty impressive. For comparison, Death Valley has received 1.56 inches during the same time period.  However, although much of Hawaii has been in drought conditions during the past several years, there have been other locations in Hawaii that have received more rainfall in one day than the park has received during the past five years combined!

In 2011, Mount Wai’ale’ale on Kauai received 352 inches of rain. Ironically, this was actually a lower-than-normal year! Also, much of the precipitation that the park received during the past few years actually fell in a relatively short time. For example, out of the 4.08 inches that fell in 2011, 3.13 inches fell in the course of about one hour!

This is the last time we’ve seen any green at the park (two years ago).

As dry as it has been in the past few years, it is still not the worst this area has seen. Back in 1953, only .19 of an inch fell in Kawaihae (where the park is located). This is actually less rainfall than some places in Hawaii have received in a single minute!  According to historical records, sometime in the early 1800’s one of King Kamehameha’s advisers, John Young, told a visitor that he had seen an entire year go by without any rainfall. Needless to say, we are still waiting for a good rainy season. In the mean time, you now know where to visit to get a suntan! Aloha

This photo was taken in December, 2008. Compare this with the top photo...this is the way it is supposed to look this time of year!

This photo was taken in December, 2008. Compare this with the top photo…this is the way it is supposed to look this time of year!

Total Precipiation for Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site:
2012:
2.9 inches
2011: 4.08 inches
2010: 6.19 inches
2009: 6.29 inches
2008: 3.44 inches
Total 2008-2012 = 22.9 inches
(average of 4.58 inches per year)

2005: 13.91 inches
2004: 13.41 inches
2003: 6.62 inches
2002: 11.24 inches
2001: 4.36 inches
Total 2001-2005 = 49.54 inches
(average of 9.91 inches per year)

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