HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii island is seeing more frequent heavy storms, and climate change may be the reason, according to two University of Hawaii researchers.
Ying Chen, a UH-Manoa graduate student at the time of the study, and Pao-Shin Chu, professor of atmospheric sciences at UH-Manoa, in a paper published in the International Journal of Climatology also conclude that heavy rain storms are occurring less frequently on leeward Oahu and central Maui, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/1KDuLiJ) reported.
The study notes that climate is changing and public officials may need to reconsider current flood-control standards and other guidelines tied to rain.
"In the past, the frequency of heavy rainfall events was assumed to be fairly constant," said Chu, head of the Hawaii State Climate Office, in a release.
The study found that through 1960, storms that dropped 12 inches of rain on the Big Island occurred once every 20 years.
By 2009, however, the storms increased in frequency and severity. They were striking the island every three to five years and pouring down more than 16.5 inches of rain, the researchers said.
"The planet is changing," Chu said Saturday. "You should not assume the weather will remain steady as before. You need to revolutionize your thinking."
Major rain events were more frequent during La Nina years, when cooler-than-normal sea surface temperatures are found in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator off the west coast of South America. Major rain events were less frequent in El Nino years, when warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures occur in the same area.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com