For most of 2010, more than 40 percent of the Hawaiian Islands experienced severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions. Between July and November, more than 5 percent of the state's land area reached the exceptional drought category.
Though drought touched each of the Hawaiian Islands, it was most intense on the already dry leeward sides of the islands that lie in the rain shadow of the islands' volcanic mountains. The animation above shows color-coded, drought classification maps for Hawaii each week, from January 5 to November 30, 2010. The more severe the drought, the darker the red. The maps are based on data from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The low number of winter storms, which often bring soaking rains that cover the entire island, is one likely cause of the intense drought conditions. El Niño conditions during the winter of 2009-2010 also contributed to below-normal rainfall in Hawaii in the early part of the year.
Drought in the Hawaiian Islands led to very poor pasture conditions that significantly impacted cattle ranching operations. Some counties adopted water conservation measures that restricted the use of irrigation water for growing crops. Wildfires also became harder to contain.
For information on current drought conditions in Hawaii, visit the U.S. Drought Monitor Website.
Featured Image: Rain Shadows on the Summits of Hawaii