While Spring is officially here and the calendar says it’s May, it still feels like winter in some parts of the country; one unexpected place still seeing wintry weather is none other than the Big Island of Hawaii. With upwards of 5″ of fresh snow in the forecast, the National Weather Service office in Honolulu, Hawaii has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the two tallest summits on Hawaii Island, also known simply as the “Big Island.”
“A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow, sleet, or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities and use caution while driving,” the National Weather Service said in a statement released this morning. “Periods of snow will develop this afternoon through late tonight. The heaviest snow will fall above 12,000 feet while a mix of rain and snow is expected as low as 10,500 feet.”
In addition to snow accumulations of up to 5″, the National Weather Service says southeast winds could gust up to 35 mph. The Winter Weather Advisory runs from noon today through 6 am Hawaii time on Monday.
“Instability due to an upper-level disturbance developing over the area combined with abundant moisture will likely cause increasing showers, along with a chance of thunderstorms across much of the state this afternoon through tonight,” meteorologists at the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service office wrote in today’s Forecast Discussion. “Trades will become established across the island chain tonight, with locally breezy trades expected from Monday into mid-week. A relatively wet trade wind weather pattern will likely develop from Monday through Tuesday, with a slight chance of thunderstorms over portions of the Big Island each afternoon.”
While most people don’t associate the tropical paradise Hawaii is known for with snow, they’re surprised to learn that it does snow in the winter due to the elevation of the volcanic peaks on Hawaii and Maui islands. Mauna Kea is the highest of the bunch at 13,803 feet. Maui’s Haleakala is much lower at 10,023 feet. Because of that difference, Hawaii Island will see snow more frequently than the lower Maui Island. Just one storm in January 2020 dropped 2-3 feet of snow on Hawaii Island and created snow drifts that were far deeper. Another storm in January 2021 brought snowboarders and skiers out to the mountain by the dozens. A blizzard hit the Big Island last December, guaranteeing a White Christmas there for 2022 just 4 months ago.