If you thought this past winter was unseasonably dry in your neck of the woods, you’re not alone. The National Weather Service announced this month that the seven-month wet season, called a “hooilo” in Hawaiian, was one of the driest in the last half-century.

Kevin Kodama, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s Honolulu branch, wrote in his most recent precipitation summary that the 2009-2010 wet season, which began in October and ended April 30, was among the driest of the last 55 years. Only three other wet seasons — 1997-1998, 1977-1978 and 1972-1973 — were in the same ballpark.

Kodama said he compared the last 30 years of annual wet season rainfall totals seen at each of seven gauges across the state — Lihue Airport, Honolulu Airport, Hilo Airport, Molokai Airport, Manoa’s Lyon Arboretum, Ulupalakua Ranch on Maui and Kapapala Ranch on the Big Island. The 2009-2010 wet season averaged 24.9 in those rankings.

Take a look at the spreadsheet, which Kodama graciously provided to Civil Beat, to see the results and to understand just how dry your island’s winter was compared to years past.

This matters for a whole host of reasons:

  • Wildfires could be common this summer. They’ve already started on Maui and could get worse, especially during July 4 fireworks celebrations.
  • Your hike to Manoa Falls or any other waterfall might reward you with a view of a trickle instead of a mighty torrent.
  • Wild pigs in search of drinking water often make their way down out of the mountains to more residential areas. Will Honolulu be overrun by swine?
  • The crops that require a healthy water supply — meaning all of them — could be in trouble if the next few months don’t bring more rain. Cattle too.

Are there any impacts I may have forgotten? Join the conversation and let me know how you think we might feel the dry winter in coming months.

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