February rains bump totals to above average

Recent rainfall ensured most of the windward Big Island’s precipitation gauges tallied above-average totals for February.

Kevin Kodama, senior hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Honolulu, on Thursday said a large portion of the state received enhanced windward showers last month.

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“The most significant rainfall occurred over the windward slopes of the Big Island and Maui, though enhanced windward showers also occurred from Molokai to Kauai,” Kodama said. “Rainfall began to ramp up late on Feb. 26, peaked on Feb. 27, then slowly decreased on Feb. 28 and into March 1.”

Not surprisingly, the populated spot with the highest rainfall total for the month was Glenwood. The village in the upper Puna rainforest received 18.35 inches of rain, 118% of its usual February total of 15.56 inches.

That brings its total for the first two months of the year to 40.17 inches, 5 inches above norm.

“The highest daily total was 6.8 inches on Feb. 27 at Piihonua,” Kodama said, adding the neighborhood upslope of Hilo town “had a two-day total of 10.18 inches on Feb. 27 and 28.”

Those two days accounted for more than half of Piihonua’s 17.39 inches total, almost 5 inches more than its February average. That brought Piihonua to 37.33 inches for the year, 46% above its year-to-date average.

Pahoa, which averages slightly more than 10 inches of rain in February, checked in with just over 16 inches, bringing its year-to-date total to just over 33 inches, almost 12 inches of rainfall wetter than usual.

Hilo International Airport also is having a wetter-than-normal rainy season. February’s total of 13.13 inches brought its 2021 tally to 30.6 inches through the end of February, almost 12 inches above norm.

Along the Hamakua Coast, Hakalau had 6.82 inches of rain in February, Laupahoehoe tallied 13.14 inches, and Honokaa received 7.9 inches.

Hakalau’s year-to-date total of 21.47 inches is almost twice as wet as normal, while Laupahoehoe, at 25,89 inches, was slightly above average while Honokaa, at 15.64 inches, was slightly below its two-month norm.

The Kona coffee belt has its rainy season in the summer, but its three operable gauges all were above normal or slightly above normal for both the month and year. Kainaliu has received slightly less than 6 inches for the first two months, while Kealakekua measured 7.89 inches and Honaunau 8.22.

According to Kodama, the west-side totals were aided by a cold front that settled above the Kona slopes Feb. 18-19, causing instability that “helped produce periods of heavy rain.”

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The rain gauge at usually sunny Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole collected 1.26 inches of rain in February, bringing its total to 3.72 inches for the year, slightly less than its year-to-date norm.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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