With a winter storm warning in effect through Saturday, the summits of Hawaii’s Big Island could get more than two feet of snow.
USA TODAY NETWORK
Another foot of snow could fall on Hawaii’s highest mountain peaks Sunday, on top of the 2 feet that have fallen since Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island through Monday morning. Heavy snow and howling winds are expected to reduce visibility to below a quarter mile at times.
The rest of the island, and all of Hawaii, is under a flash flood watch as heavy showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast Sunday.
“Heavier downpours and thunderstorms could cause streams to quickly overflow their banks, leading to flash flooding,” the weather service said.
The snow on the mountain peaks of Hawaii is not uncommon in the colder months because it is so high, nearly 14,000 feet. Mauna Kea has a sub-Arctic climate, the weather service said.
“As long as we have deep enough clouds to support ice crystals, and when you have cold enough temperatures at the summit level, you can get snowfall,” said Matthew Foster, a staff meteorologist with the weather service in Honolulu.
Mauna Loa and its sister peak of Mauna Kea are both volcanos. Mauna Kea is the highest point in the state of Hawaii.
“We’ll probably see three to five snow events a year during the cold season. Some years we might not get any, some years we might get more,” said Foster.
The only other area of Hawaii that gets snow with any regularity is the Haleakalā volcano on Maui, which at about 10,000 feet gets snow once every five years or so, he said.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii was 12 degrees on Mauna Kea on May 17, 1979, the weather service said.
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