By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

Hawaii’s drought is increasing the risk of wildfires this summer along the Leeward coasts, with experts saying El Nino conditions made for a drier winter in the state.

“This year, we’re well ahead of schedule for how dry we are,” Ian Morrison, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, told KITV Island News. “We’re about three months ahead of where we would normally be. So we’re about to reach a threshold in Hawaii where normally we wouldn’t hit that threshold until July.”

He also pointed to trade winds that could exacerbate the potential wildfires.

“Summer time is normally about 90% trade winds,” Morrison said. “Everybody remembers last summer was hot and humid with little winds, but that is not expected for this year. We expect the trade winds to maintain themselves for that 90% of that time.”

The drought conditions, he added, are forecast to peak in fall. After that, the weather phenomenon meteorologists term La Nina is expected to cause cooler ocean temperatures and a stronger chance for more rain.

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