(BIVN) – The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows conditions have been improving across the State of Hawaiʻi, and forecasters note that the expected El Niño-driven severe drought has not materialized.
“In Hawaiʻi, conditions continued to improve on Maui with a favorable local response to the recent wet pattern,” wrote the U.S. Drought Monitor on February 1, 2024. “Moderate drought was removed from Maui and abnormally dry conditions improved in areas of Maui and Kahoolawe. On the Big Island, moderate drought conditions were improved slightly along the northwest Kona coast.”
The latest map shows Puna, Hilo, Hāmākua, and North Kohala are “Abnormally Dry”, while a large patch in South Kohala is the only area in the State experiencing D1 “Moderate Drought” conditions.
At a recent meeting of the Hawai‘i Drought Council, National Weather Service senior service hydrologist Kevin Kodama “reported that while El Niño conditions remain in place over Hawai‘i, the predicted dry-weather patterns usually associated with El Niño have not materialized as severely as expected,” according to a State news release.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, reporting on the Drought Council meeting, says the lessening drought conditions across the state is the result of significant rainfall in December and January.
“It’s difficult to predict climate anomalies. The ocean is saying El Niño is in place, with sea surface temperatures near the equator above average. Clearly, the atmosphere did not get the memo over Hawai‘i,” Kodama explained, according to the DLNR.
The DLNR added:
Severe impacts to drinking and agricultural water supplies have been avoided so far but based on NWS forecast models there’s still potential for an early dry season, which could lead to potential shortages for homes with water catchment systems.
“Climate models favored below-average rainfall into the start of the 2024 winter season,” Kodama said. “That was not the case in December and January. We are still expecting drier than normal conditions through the rest of the wet season that ends April 30, and into the start of the May-through-September dry season. El Niño is predicted to die out in the spring and maybe switch to La Niña in the summer.”
The Hawai‘i Drought Council is said to be preparing an awareness campaign, “Treat Every Drop Like a Gift”, to bring water conservation messages and tips to residents and visitors, prior to the start of Hawai‘i’s dry season.