Big Island

Does it Always Rain in Hilo?

On the Big Island, there are many “facts” that are tossed around that just aren’t true. People say you can’t get insurance or a loan in lava zone 1 and 2. Water catchment systems are difficult to work with and you are very likely to catch some virus from drinking the water. Another “fact” is that it always rains in Hilo. None of these are true, but the one I want to touch on today is “does it always rain in Hilo?”

Weather in Hilo

Although Hilo gets plenty of rain, most of it comes at fairly predictable times and won’t mess up your plans to enjoy our tropical and lush side of the Island. Looking into the true facts, I will show you numbers that may amaze you but also explain how much rain in Hilo you can expect if you choose to move to the East side of the Big Island.

According to the National Weather Service, Hilo averages about 130 inches of rain a year. That is a mind-blowing 10 feet of rain a year on average. Why would anyone want to live in an area with 10 feet of rain? Because most of it comes at night. I live at about 700 feet elevation and most of our rain comes nightly from about midnight to sunrise. The sun comes up and the clouds burn off and most days are blue sky with big white puffy clouds with a temperature of 75 to 85 degrees. The tradewinds make it pleasant and a wonderful place to live and work. Near the ocean, you can expect less rain in most cases and the temperatures are a little warmer. As you move up the hill from Hilo into the higher elevation, you can expect cooler temperatures and more rain. You can read up on the facts yourself here and here.

The Rainy Seasons

We do have two predictable season changes where we can get several days of rain in Hilo. One normally comes around October, and the other around March. When my wife and I first moved into our home, we walked into 9 days of steady rain and looked at each other in disbelief. What had we done? Everything we were told about it always rains in Hilo seemed to be true. But then, it stopped. Turned off like a spigot. And we had weeks of perfect weather with just an occasional rainy day or two along with nightly showers to keep our jungle green and lush. This year, we had our rainy fall after about 8 weeks of beautiful weather around Thanksgiving. As I write this, we are coming off of several days of rain at the end of February, and I am looking forward to a beautiful spring.

So, Does it Always Rain in Hilo?

The answer is both yes and no. We show a high chance of rain every day on the weather report, and they are almost always correct. If we don’t get our early morning rain, that is unusual. Does the rain in Hilo make living here hard? Not at all. The temperatures are always pleasant and if we do get a rain shower or day or two of rain, people still work in it. When we get our predictable fall and spring rain, we jump over to the hot and sunny Kona side for day trips and play in the ocean. Hilo and the surrounding area is a beautiful place and the rain is what makes it that way. Read the facts and then make your decision after visiting the “rainy side” of the Big Island.

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David Burnett

February 28, 2018

We will be retiring to Puna area early 2019. like to purchase a home, if possible with good soil in same area? Where do you think we should look? Were not new to Hawaii have owned a house on Kaui for 35 years and spend a month there every year and vacation rent it rest of time, on lee side Kekaha.
Look forward to your reply.
Mahalo Dave and Thip

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