Drought leads to one of Hawaii’s largest ever wildfires

It's not just the Pacific Northwest dealing with the effects of drought this summer

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s not just the Pacific Northwest dealing with the effects of drought and wildfires this summer.

Hawaii is dealing with a drought of its own that helped create the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state. The Mana Road Fire is estimated at over 40,000 acres and was fueled by strong winds starting July 31. Wildfires in Hawaii only burned over 40,000 acres twice in total between 1904 and 2012 according to the Pacific Fire Exchange.

READ MORE: Record wildfire burns amid drought on Hawaii’s Big Island


Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

The area where the fire is burning developed severe drought over the past three months thanks to persistent high pressure weather patterns. The long-term dry weather without intermittent rain is similar to the fast-developing drought that’s gripped the Northwest this year. In addition, the volcanic peaks of the Hawaiian Islands can make drought even worse thanks to a rain shadow effect.  This combination of micro-climates and persistent weather patterns lead to pockets of higher drought like where this fire happened.

The Pacific Fire Exchange says the acreage burned by wildfires in Hawaii has gone up 400 percent in the past century. The group credits this increase to a combination of human fire-starts, more flammable non-native plants, and a warming, drying climate in the Aloha State.

The wildfire activity in Hawaii is just part of an active week for wildfires worldwide. In addition to the over 1 million acres burning across the West, a heat wave in southern Europe sparked a series of large wildfires in Turkey.

READ MORE: Wildfire reaches Turkey power plant, prompts evacuations