It’s always raining! Quantify that.

It’s the weekend and it’s raining. I counted 12 dry days in August. There were only three dry days in July. The first big day of picking a few weeks ago ended a little earlier than planned because of steady, hard rain. It’s just unpleasant for the pickers, and it was close to quitting time that day anyway.

I talked story with Bob Nelson of Lehuula Farms a few weeks ago about the the amount of rain we’ve been getting and the kilowatt hours from our solar panels. Bob had a longtime career as a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game before he and his wife moved to Hawaii in 1994 to become full time coffee farmers. They’re now retired.

We’re only a mile apart and at a similar elevation, so you’d think it’d be the same, but our experiences are still slightly different. For years now Bob has been very generous with his time and expertise and has given a number of talks and workshops via the Kona Coffee Farmers Association. He likes to fix mechanical things, too. There are plenty of opportunities for that with the coffee business.

He has had one of the National Water and Climate Center’s (NWCC, under the USDA) weather stations on his property since 2005. He shared some of his experiences ensuring the weather station would be maintained. In any case, he went through a lot of the historical rain data from the neighboring weather station at the university’s CTAHR’s extension office and the station on his property (Kainaliu). The two stations are only about 1/4-mile apart and within 50 feet of elevation. He came up with the rain chart below. He talked about how data readings were historically done and some data was missing because it used to be that the stations were read on the weekends only, and sometimes a person wasn’t available to read it/them. My takeaway was that it was tedious for him to make this chart.

It’s the type of information I had been looking for somewhere on the internet. The locals have been mildly complaining about all this rain, although acknowledging it’s good for the coffee. And people would say, “I guess it’s like the old days.” But I couldn’t find the data presented in an understandable manner. Until Bob’s chart. Thanks, Bob, for creating the chart and letting me share it!

Average monthly rainfall from 1931-2021, shown pre-, during- and post-eruption.

It backs up the talk about rain patterns before and after the decades-long volcanic eruption. The Y-axis is inches of rain, and the X-axis is months. The blue line is the average of the months’ rainfall from 1931-1982, the historic data prior to the eruption. The orange line is the historic data during the eruption, 1983-2018. And the grey line is post eruption from August 2018 to July 2021.

It’ll be interesting to see how the grey line continues, and how long we’ll remain eruption-free. We thought we could have been at the start of a possibly long eruption-free period, until it erupted back in December. That eruption officially ended in May this year.

On another note, the New York Times has a relatively new series called “It’s Never Too Late” that tells the stories of people who decide to pursue their dreams on their own terms; that it’s never too late to switch gears, change your life and pursue dreams. Being a swimmer, I liked an earlier article about an older lady finally learning to swim. The latest entry was “It’s Never Too Late to Ditch the City and Run a Farm.”

Martha Prewitt performed as an opera singer for 15 years. But passions wane. She now runs the family farm in Kentucky, singing arias to cattle and corn. Sometimes bugs fly into her mouth.

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