Mention "Death Valley" and often those words conjure images of hot, blistering sands and no water. Mention "Hawaii" and lush tropical forests and wave-washed shores come to mind.
Now, the part of Hawaii where Pu`ukohola Heiau is located is normally on the dry side, as park officials noted earlier this month:
Lush tropical rainforests, beautiful flowers and colorful birds -- that is the image many people have of the tropics. We usually equate high rainfall with tropical weather. But this is not always the case. Take for example the Kohala Coast of the Island of Hawai`i. Shielded by both Mauna Kea and the Kohala volcano, the area along this leeward facing coastline is one of the driest places in Hawai`i.
But things are going to extremes this year. So bad is the current Hawaiian drought that while Death Valley has received more than 3 inches of rain, Pu`ukohola Heiau has measured just 1.5 inches. Site officials say that while Hawaii overall is experiencing the worst drought conditions in the United States, in the Big Island districts of South Kohala (where Pu`ukohola Heiau is located) and Ka`u, drought conditions remain “Exceptional”…the highest severity level.
Somewhat ironic, in light of the Hawaiian drought, is that the wettest spot in the United States is Mt. Waialeale on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where more than 38 FEET of rain falls, on average, each year, according to the folks at Current Results.
On Maui, National Park Service officials at Haleakala National Park are warning park visitors of the risk of wildfires and are asking visitors to do their part in helping reduce the risk of fire. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the island of Hawaii, officials closed the Mauna Loa Road at Kipukapuaulu (Bird Park) to all visitors due to extreme fire danger. Also, `Ainahou Ranch is only open for administrative use.
Park visitors are being urged to use extreme caution and not park in tall grass (where a vehicle's hot catalytic converter or exhaust pipes might ignite the tinder-dry grass). The Hilina Pali Road also is closed beyond the Kulanaokuaiki Campground due to extremely dry conditions.