Between 2005 and 2011, Oahu had an average of around 600 wildfires annually, according to new research co-published by HWMO, UH CTAHR, U.S. Forest Service, and CEMML.
This figure might see a major jump this year with the strengthening of El Niño and the intensifying of a drought to go along with it.
Pablo Beimler met with Oahu Wildfire Information and Education (OWIE) group members on January 26th at the Federal Fire Department Headquarters in Pearl Harbor to discuss an outreach campaign to get the word out there about the drought and preventing/preparing for the potential uptick in wildfires. Representatives from Honolulu Fire Department, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension, NOAA National Weather Service, Federal Fire Department - Navy, and U.S. Army-Garrison were present at the meeting.
Derek Wroe, of NOAA NWS, gave an update on the El Niño outlook, which does not look good for Hawaii. This El Niño, which will go down as on the top 3 worst on record, has already significantly impacted the leeward and windward sides of Oahu. In December, there was less than 30% of normal rainfall in most areas, with January looking even worse. We'd be lucky to have a solid rainfall event for the rest of the winter!
With spring break on the way, fire activity could be on the rise.
OWIE members had an excellent discussion on ideas for reaching out to the public - plenty of exciting news to share once event details come to fruition and can be publicized.