Epic deluge in Hawaii may have broken all-time U.S. rainfall record, with 4 feet in 24 hours
A devastating flash flood event in mid-April caused widespread damage on the lush Hawaiian island of Kauai. Now comes word that during the 24-hour period between April 14 and 15, a staggering 49.69 inches of rain fell at a rain gauge about 1 mile west of Hanalei.
If this amount is verified by the National Climatic Extremes Committee, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and serves as a sort of Guinness Book of World Records for weather and climate, it would be the heaviest 24-hour rainfall total ever recorded in the U.S.
The current record is 43 inches, set on July 25-26, 1979, in Alvin, Texas. It would also crush the state record of 38 inches, which was also set in Kauai, back in 1956.
The committee members will review the rain gage to determine if it was functioning properly at the time of the rainstorm. This particular gage is operated by a nonprofit organization called the WAIPA Foundation. It's possible that the committee will conclude that the amount of rain was actually less than recorded, or conversely, that it underestimated the rainfall total.
This rainstorm is in keeping with climate change trends, as global warming is already making extreme precipitation events both more frequent and intense.
No studies have yet been done on this particular event to see how climate change affected it, but other research has shown that global warming has made heavy rainfall events, including Hurricane Harvey, which was the most extreme rainstorm on record in the U.S., much more likely.