Saturday, 27 December 2008

Record rainfall? Yes and no

Since the storm that's hitting the islands has been so intense I hoped to take a picture of the lightning - all I got was sheet-lightning as it was so cloudy. The picture above was taken in the middle of the night.

The storm that hit Hawai'i has been pretty bad, Oahu (and president-elect Obama) was left without power overnight. That's the stuff that gets headlines and perhaps HECO will get their act together after this.

Other headlines have included Hilo on the Big Island getting the highest amount of rainfall in one day. The local TV and radio stations have been pretty excited about this, the ones I've heard have said this is the greatest amount of rainfall in any 24-hour period.

Well, they're wrong. Hilo International Airport received over 9-inches of rain. (I capitalised it to make it look more important than it is, I don't think it serves any other country than the US and it rarely sees aircraft from outside the Hawaiian islands). That is not a 24-hour record. So far I've found several occasions on the NWS site that record more than 10-inches in one day for Hilo.

No matter - nearly 10-inches of rain in 24-hours is a lot of water. In the UK a half-inch of rain will cause floods and get the BBC and the Met office into emergency mode with headlines about torrential rain.

Today my previous request was answered - the rain stopped. Then it started again tonight and so did the thunder and lightning. I guess nature thought that a few hours was enough to dry everything out and that another few inches of rain might be needed. I can tell you that it got it wrong and we're OK for water right now, plants and all. Thanks, anyway, but I'm looking forward to the next drought now...

Update: What I didn't make clear in my post is why the title says "yes and no" Sorry about that. The near-10 inches of rain was not a 24-hour record for Hilo, but it was a record for the amount of rainfall for Hilo on 26th December - by a long way. That's a pretty useless piece of information in my opinion, but the NWS likes to make these sorts of stats more easily accessible than the more interesting ones, like the record rainfall ever (which I think is 15+ inches).


Zuzana said...

Wow, I can not believe that picture is taken in the middle of the night.
I remember getting power outages very often when living in North Carolina, especially when there was a bit of a storm, I hated that.
I hope you will soon get your drought, but hopefully you can stay dry until then,;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying

Beep said...

Lightning is scary. I hope you are safe.

Anonymous said...


So that record is specific to that date? Well, that's a fat load of uselessness isn't it!


Tom said...

It gives the local TV stations something to talk about and then mislead everyone. Watch the weather forecasts during the summer when the weather is unchanging - they'll always refer to the previous "record" for that day.

Yes, it's completely useless but I guess people want to know this stuff. Try and find the record rainfall for Hilo at the NWS site - it takes some work.