A DRY, HOT SUMMER
Recent light tradewinds 'unusual'
Hawaii's natural air conditioner has been sputtering lately.
And with summer almost here, the return of the tradewinds would be a welcome relief even for weather forecasters.
"Usually in the summertime, the tradewinds are usually at its steadiest," said forecaster Pete Donaldson of the National Weather Service. "The fact that the winds are light and we lost the tradewinds altogether is pretty unusual."
The light tradewinds are predicted to fade even more in the next few days, and when that happens, residents will get sticky under the collar.
Tradewinds are expected to pick up by Saturday, Donaldson predicted.
From the heavy rains that pounded the isles earlier this year to the unusually light tradewinds now, "it's been a year of extremes," said Kevin Kodama, senior hydrologist at the National Weather Service.
"In March, we had persistent low pressure and it just stayed there on the west of the isles that brought a lot of rain," he said.
"What we're seeing now is a weakening of the trades and the ridge of high pressure that is unusually close to us for this time of year," Kodama said, adding that this type of weather is normally seen during the winter season.
Normally, tradewinds during the summer are more "regular and stronger" with more rain on the Windward side, he said.
Tradewinds come from the high pressure to the north of the islands, Donaldson said. "During the summertime, they tend to be farther to the north. What's different this month is that the lows in the front are further south than they normally are for this time of year. The ridge that produces the tradewinds are also further to the south."
At some point, normal tradewinds should return, he said.
While some are complaining about the lack of wind and rain, farmers on Oahu welcomed the dry weather, which has allowed them to replant crops.
"I think in terms of preparing the land for future plantings, we needed the dry weather," said David Chinen, president of the Waikane/Waiahole Association. "I think it's a welcome change."
"The weather has been very extreme. Either it is too wet or too dry," Chinen said.
Chinen, who owns two papaya farms in Waikane and Waiahole, said about 25 percent of his papaya trees were destroyed during the March rains.
"We are doing a lot of replanting now," he said. "That's the only time we can work, when it's dry."
Dean Okimoto, owner of Nalo Farms in Waimanalo and president of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, estimated that farmers throughout the state suffered more than $10 million in crop damage from the rains.
Damage to crops on Okimoto's farm alone was estimated at $100,000. Okimoto said he started replanting in April.
The current hot weather may singe lettuce leaves, but enhances its flavor, making the greens spicy, Okimoto said.
But with no rain, more irrigation is needed to keep crops healthy. "Sometimes, we're watering twice a day, which is unusual for this time of year," Okimoto said.