Kona Low Sets Up Surge of Moisture Across Hawaiian Islands

Posted: November 30, 2023 11:43 am

A typical Kona low is setting up over Hawaii to close out the week. While this weather pattern will certainly provide some degree of relief to the ongoing drought in some parts of the Aloha State, the rain will also trigger the threat of flash flooding while also making for some messy days for vacationers. Here is what you need to know about this developing forecast.

Understanding the Impacts of a Kona Low

Both residents and tourists in Hawaii will be watching the Kona low that is forecast to circulate over the island chain in the coming days. This area of low pressure is known to position itself to the west and northwest of the group of islands, bringing in south to southwest winds to the region, a sharp contrast to the usual east to northeast trade winds that the state generally experiences. This low is also responsible for ushering in significant amounts of tropical moisture. The word “Kona” translates to leeward, describing the winds that come out of the south.

This particular Kona low originated from a storm system that spun up over the Aleutians last week. Some of the energy from this weather maker broke off and made its way toward the Hawaiian islands, creating the area of low pressure that eventually turned into the Kona low.

How Much Rain to Expect Over the Next Few Days

In addition to the noticeable change in the wind direction, the low will deliver a steady rain to the islands through the first part of the weekend. The greatest threat of flash flooding will be centered over the western islands of Kauai, Oahu, and Niihau. The southern edge of the Big Island will also see this enhanced tropical moisture.

You can expect rainfall amounts of 2 – 3 inches in this part of the islands. Locally higher amounts of rain are possible across the south and southeast facing slopes of the mountainous terrains in Oahu and Kauai. Hikers will want to take caution if headed out in this area. These rains can seemingly come out of nowhere, catching people off guard and presenting danger.

The influx of tropical moisture will also create the risk of intense thunderstorms over the western islands. Potential impacts include mudslides and debris flows.

Across the Big Island, the southern portion of the land mass can expect to see 1 – 2 inches of rain through the weekend. The runoff generated by this moisture may result in some road closures. Urban areas may experience rapid runoff that could lead to property damage.

While the worst of the rain will move out on Friday, some of the showers and thunderstorms may stick around through Saturday. For instance, Waikiki Beach on Oahu should not expect dry conditions until Sunday. Temperatures will remain in the low 80s in this vacation hot spot.

In addition to the rain, breezy conditions could impact outdoor plans. However, the highest wind gusts are forecast to remain offshore in an area to the northwest of the islands.

While highly disruptive to vacationers, this rain is good news for parts of the state still grappling with ongoing drought conditions. According to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, levels range between moderate and extreme in the Hawaiian islands. This incoming rain will help to put a dent in the drought, however, the dry conditions will not be completely alleviated.

Did you find this content useful? Feel free to bookmark or to post to your timeline for reference later.