(BIVN) – Much of East Hawaiʻi is “Abnormally Dry” and parts of North Kohala are under “Moderate Drought”, according to the latest from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
From the Monitor on July 13:
In Hawaii, persistently weaker-than-normal trade winds continued to prompt expansion and intensification of dryness and drought across the Islands. Most notably, severe drought (D2) developed along the south-central and southwestern coastline of Maui, and moderate drought (D1) expanded across coastal southwestern Molokai, and remained unchanged over much of central and western Maui, as well as near the northeastern coast of the Big Island.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources provided this recent update on conditions around the Big Island:
A week ago, the southern tip of Hawai‘i Island was not seeing drought conditions, but is now considered abnormally dry, and firefighters fought a fire there this week. The North Kohala district continues to have moderate drought conditions and all east Hawai‘i Island is termed as abnormally dry.
The Saddle Road area, the site of the 17,000-acre Leilani fire last year, appears to be green and lush now. However, DOFAW Hawai‘i Island Branch Manager Steve Bergfeld commented after a recent aerial survey, “Even after rain, within a couple of days and the wind kicks in, the fuel dries out quickly. Though it looks green, invasive grasses can still carry fire.” Non-native grasses like fountain grass cover 25% acres of Hawai‘i’s land mass.
On Thursday, the Hawaiʻi Fire Department reported a brush fire in upper Puna on Old Volcano Road between Nahelenani Street and Aliʻi Anela Street. The intersection of Nahelenani Street and Old Volcano Road was closed as firefighters handled the situation.
The DLNR notes that “virtually all wildfires in Hawai‘i are started by people, mostly by accident.” The chief causes are:
- heat from vehicle exhaust that can ignite dry grass
- sparks from machinery like weed whackers, chain saws, grinders, welding equipment, and all-terrain vehicles
- unattended campfires or barbecues