Over the ocean near Hawaii, rainfall averages between 25 and 30 inches a year. The islands receive as much as 15 times that amount in some places and less than one third of it in others. This is caused mainly by orographic or mountain rains, which form within the moist trade wind air as it moves from the sea over the steep and high terrain of the islands. Over the lower islands, the average rainfall distribution resembles closely the topographic contours. Amounts are greatest over upper slopes and crests and least in the leeward lowlands.
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