Snow Warning Issued For Hawaii

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter weather warning for the Big Island summits in Hawaii, where heavy snow is expected over the weekend.

The agency warned that heavy snow and very strong winds are expected over the peaks of its two tallest volcanoes, the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The Mauna Kea, the highest point in Hawaii and the second-highest peak of an island on the planet, is 13,803 feet high. Big Island has a total of five volcanoes.

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According to the NWS, there will be total snow accumulations of up to six inches, with winds gusting over 70 miles per hour. The agency warned that the snow might make travel difficult to impossible.

“Blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility at times, with periods of zero visibility,” the Honolulu branch of NWS wrote.

Hawaii weather
A man takes a photo as large waves from the Pacific Ocean crash against lava rock at Wawaloli Beach Park during a high surf advisory on January 18, 2024, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Hawaii’s Big Island’s…

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A winter storm warning, according to the agency’s definition, means significant amounts of snow, sleet, and ice are expected or occurring. “Strong winds are also possible,” the NWS wrote. “This will make travel very hazardous or impossible. Any travel plans to the summits should be postponed until the threat diminishes.”

The winter weather storm warning will be in place until 6 a.m. HST on Saturday, May 11.

While Hawaii is often associated with sunny beaches and pristine blue waters, it’s not unusual for the state’s peaks to be covered with snow, with the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa getting their fair share of white dust each year. Snow normally only falls in places above 10,000 feet in Hawaii during the winter, in places like Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Haleakala. Much of the state faces warm tropical weather all year round.

The rest of Hawaii is facing much warmer temperatures, up to over 80 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend, though the state was under the threat of strong to severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall on Friday night, according to NWS Honolulu.

A flash flood warning is currently in place in Waimea, Puako and Kawaihae until 12:15 a.m. HST on Saturday, May 11. Several other areas—including Oahu Windward Waters and Kaiwi Channel—are under special marine warning until about 2:15 a.m. HST, with the NWS warning of strong winds and possible waterspout. Residents should seek safe harbor from steep waves.

While much of the state will experience rainfall, the colder temperatures found at higher altitudes, like on Big Island’s peaks, will produce snow.