While cold weather and early season snowfall has impacted portions of the continental United States in recent days, with even colder weather and more snow arriving for Thanksgiving, the same is true in Hawaii. Several inches of snow fell yesterday on Mauna Kea, treating people in a state best known for sunny beaches and frozen tropical drinks with a taste of winter. While snow plows have been out today removing snow, the Mauna Kea Access Road has been closed due to the snowcover.
Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, at 13,803 feet and 13,678 feet respectively, rise well above the warm tropical beaches that surround the edges of the island. While it’s the state closest to the Equator, the high elevation of Hawaii’s Big Island peaks are high enough to tangle with cold air found high in the sky. In the winter, storms frequently tap into cold air to produce snow on the volcanic peaks while soaking rains fall at lower elevations. Snow can also fall during other times of the year; strong storms to move over the islands have been known to bring down just enough cold air to produce quick snow even in summer months.
While many are shocked to find it snows in the tropics, it is quite a frequent occurrence. More snow is possible in Hawaii after Thanksgiving as a new weather system brings wet weather to lower elevations and more snow to the mountain peaks.