You might be able to see it just outside your bedroom window: the landscape around you starting to look drier and drier. Forecasts are calling for severe droughts for most of Hawaiʻi throughout the year (and possibly beyond). There are a number of steps you can take to make sure you stay a few steps ahead of the many wildfires on the way, both on wet and dry sides.
"These sudden downpours are part of the pattern, said Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, based in Waimea. The moisture stays just long enough to encourage vegetation growth, then it disappears and takes its time coming back."
"A coordinated group of federal, state and county fire officials have declared a wildfire and drought lookout, said Pickett. Officials with the National Park Service, U.S. Army, and Hawaii County Fire Department and the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife are on alert, she said.
'The forecast is really dismal as far as long dry periods and vegetation growth,' Pickett said.
The public will see the agencies roll out a wildfire awareness campaign in May in coordination with the national Wildfire Awareness Month, Pickett said.
Residents can do simple things to protect themselves from wildfire. They include landscaping with native plants -- most of which are naturally fire resistant -- and cutting down and removing brush and other fuel from near their homes.
'Many (introduced) plants that don't get enough water during a drought will drop their leaves and create a fire hazard,' Pickett said.