June 9, 2010 – Hawaii Island
The extreme drought conditions on the Big Island are expanding, as Hawaii County continues to suffer under the worst dry spell in the entire country.
The “exceptional” drought conditions – or D4 category on the U.S. Drought Monitor map – has spread from the South Kohala area to include the southeastern portion of the Ka’u District.
The remaining leeward areas on the Big Island remain under a D3 category, meaning conditions are “extreme”.
The National Weather Service says rainfall totals for 2010 through the end of June show Kapapala Ranch in Ka’u is on pace to have its driest year on record.
The once rolling green hills in Ka’u have wilted to a brown vegatation wasteland.
Cattle ranchers are having a hard time keeping their livestock nourished, and many farms are spending thousands a day just to ship in supplemental feed.
The National Weather Service reports that one Ka’u pineapple farmer reported losing his crop, and a Pahala Macadamia Nut farmer is having to use heavy irrigation to sustain his orchard.
The lack of water has impacted coffee, avocados, bananas, and other Big Island crops.
Brush fire concerns in leeward areas also persist.