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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, June 1, 2002

Hilo's rain earns national rank

By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Island Editor

Hilo's copious rain is responsible for such breathtaking sites as 'Akaka Falls and for nourishing the anthuriums and orchids that have become Big Island trademarks.

But it also makes it one of the cities with the worst weather in the United States, according to the editors of the Farmers' Almanac, the New England publication started in 1818 that mixes science with touches of conventional wisdom.

The editors, who apparently prefer the dry heat of the U.S. Southwest, ranked the best and worst cities in terms of weather based on rainfall, cloud cover, temperature and humidity. Hilo received a 10th-place ranking on the worst list because it measures a whopping 128 inches of annual rainfall and is No. 1 in terms of the number of rainy days: 277.

That means there is at least a 75 percent chance that on any given day in Hilo, some rain will fall. Never mind that the rain comes mostly at night.

Although the list was released for the first time last August, Big Island officials continue to be ribbed about the dubious distinction.

Paula Helfrich of the Hawai'i Island Economic Development Board recently received one such call from an off-island colleague and did not find it amusing.

"We strenuously object!" she said. "Rain in Hawai'i is the gift of life, of living things, and most of all, Hilo's abundance."

Farmers' Almanac Editor Peter Geiger is the first to admit the list is purely subjective. "You can measure weather any which way you want: heat, sunshine, lack of humidity," he said.

By the way, Geiger and his staff are based in Lewiston, Maine, a region that collects an average snowfall of 60 to 90 inches a year.