Floodwaters rush down Hilo's Wailuku River in 2000. Hawaii is seeing more frequent heavy storms, and climate change may be the reason, according to University of Hawaii researchers Ying Chen and Pao-Shin Chu. Photo: Hawaii Department of Public Works

HONOLULU, 8 February 2015 (AP) –  Hawaii island is seeing more frequent heavy storms, and climate change may be the reason, according to two University of Hawaii researchers.

Ying Chen, a UH-Manoa graduate student at the time of the study, and Pao-Shin Chu, professor of atmospheric sciences at UH-Manoa, in a paper published in the International Journal of Climatology also conclude that heavy rain storms are occurring less frequently on leeward Oahu and central Maui, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The study notes that climate is changing and public officials may need to reconsider current flood-control standards and other guidelines tied to rain.

"In the past, the frequency of heavy rainfall events was assumed to be fairly constant," said Chu, head of the Hawaii State Climate Office, in a release.

The study found that through 1960, storms that dropped 12 inches of rain on the Big Island occurred once every 20 years.

By 2009, however, the storms increased in frequency and severity. They were striking the island every three to five years and pouring down more than 16.5 inches of rain, the researchers said. [more]

Researchers: Climate change affecting Hawaii Island storms

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