World-famous Kona coffee belt saw rainier May than usual

June 7, 2021 GMT

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — The region where Hawaii’s world-famous Kona coffee grows usually experiences its wet season in the summer, but it saw even more rain than usual last month.

One coffee belt gauge, Kealakekua, posted its highest May rainfall total on record, 12.86 inches (32.6 centimeters), 240% of its average May rainfall total, and over 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) more than the previous May record of 9.76 inches (17.6 centimeters), the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday.

“It didn’t just squeak by on the record; it was a significant margin, so it’s pretty notable,” Kevin Kodama, National Weather Service senior service hydrologist, said last week. “And it wasn’t just that site. All of the gauges in that area picked up a pretty good amount. You look at the percent of averages, it was all at, above, or just below 200% of average.”

Kealakekua also had the Big Island’s highest one-day rainfall total of 2.28 inches (5.79 centimeters) on May 3.

“May is just getting things started. Actually, the peak doesn’t occur until later,” Kodama said of the summer wet season for leeward slopes. “So it’s pretty early to be ramped up like this. Overall, we’ve had some instability, but they’ve been getting rain, like, everyday — and in decent amounts.”

Meanwhile, for much of May, most of the Big Island’s rain gauges measured near-to-below-average amounts of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

And while most of East Hawaii has remained green, so far, other parts of the island are slipping into drought conditions. In Kodama’s last drought statement, he wrote: “With the exception of the Kona slopes of the Big Island, leeward areas of the state may see increasing drought conditions during the summer.”