Farmers warned of water shortage
Though earlier rains built up the supply, officials are worried about later demandSTORY SUMMARY »
LIHUE » It's been a winter of extremes.
So concedes the National Weather Service after a month of dry weather has forced some farmers and homeowners to conserve water.
After major storms in December, there was little rainfall in January. Storms came again early last month, but since then there's been almost no rain.
Farmers on Maui and Oahu have been asked to voluntarily cut back their water usage by 10 percent. And homes that depend on catchment for water on the Big Island are being asked to order water early, because of heavy demand.
There should be relief on the way however. Tradewinds and tradewind showers are predicted to return today.
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LIHUE » After a month without rain, farmers are being asked to voluntarily conserve water and residents on the Big Island who depend on catchment for water are being warned that there's heavy demand for water deliveries.
But thanks to storms in December and early February, aquifers and reservoirs remain at normal levels, water specialists said.
Tradewinds, and the usual windward and mauka showers that come with them, are expected to return today, which should also keep water levels at normal levels, forecasters added.
It's been a winter of extremes, said Kevin Kodama, hydrologist with the National Weather Service. While the second half of February and the first third of March have been unusually dry, the beginning of February was so wet that it made rain totals on the Big Island and portions of Kauai well above normal.
December storms brought the wettest month since March 2006. In January, rainfall was below normal on Maui and Oahu, but above normal on the Big Island and Kauai.
Farmers using the Waimanalo Reservoir on Oahu and residents of Maui and the Big Island have been requested to voluntarily reduce consumption by 10 percent.
"Areas that depend on ground water, they can handle short-term deficits," Kodama added.
On the Big Island, residents who use water catchment systems -- normally the first in the state to feel the effects of little rainfall -- were told by Mayor Harry Kim to order their water in advance because commercial water suppliers are seeing increasing orders. Kim also said in his civil defense message that the dry weather is causing fire hazards across the island.
On Maui, Jeff Eng, director of the Maui Department of Water Supply, said they are keeping an eye on water levels and pumping water to upcountry Maui as water levels drop and demand increases.
"We're sending the message out to be mindful of their water practices," Eng added. "The right thing to do is to conserve water until the weather changes."
According to Kodama, the National Weather Service climate prediction center is still calling for above-average rainfall through April.
The dry weather is because of high pressure over the state, said weather service meteorologist Ian Morrison. The same high pressure ridge is responsible for the voggy haze over the state.
The weather pattern, Morrison said, has been "unusual in that it has lasted so long."
But that should change as the tradewinds build today and continue through the week. They are are forecast to get stronger into next week.