While an east coast snow drought continues with places like Philadelphia and New York City breaking records for their lack of snow thus far this winter, yet another new winter storm is slamming into the Aloha State, bringing another round of heavy snow to the Big Island of Hawaii. Due to the heavy snow, the National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a Winter Storm Warning for portions of Hawaii Island.
According to the National Weather Service, deep moisture and instability will increase over the Big Island tonight, while temperatures over the Summits remain below freezing. This will bring additional periods of wintry precipitation to Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa; while most of the precipitation will fall as snow, freezing rain will be possible as well. While the Winter Storm Warning is up now through Sunday evening, the National Weather Service cautions wintry precipitation may continue into Monday too.
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 weeks ago.
The National Weather Service is calling for periods of heavy snow on the Big Island’s highest peaks, with accumulations in excess of 6″ of snow possible. There is also a risk of ice accumulation from freezing rain that could fall too. In their Winter Storm Warning statement, the National Weather Service says, “Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Snow will significantly reduce visibility at times.. A Winter Storm Warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet, and ice are expected or occurring. Strong winds are also possible. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible. Any travel plans to the summits should be postponed until the weather improves.”
While the winter precipitation is confined to Hawaii’s highest peaks, heavy rain and gusty winds will lash the rest of the island and the rest of the state. Maui has been especially hard hit by heavy rain over the last 24 hours. Flash Flood Warnings remain up for portions of Maui County now; Flood Advisories and Flood Watches are up elsewhere on Maui, Oahu, and Hawaii counties.