HONOLULU ― It’s late in the fall, but mountains on the island of Hawaii, known as the Big Island, are already dusted with snow. (And, yes, it snows in the island state of Hawaii.)
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the summits of the 13,800-foot Mauna Kea and the 13,600-foot Mauna Loa on the Big Island on Tuesday afternoon, effective until Wednesday morning.
Up to 2 inches of snow and icy roads are expected on the summits, where temperatures are nearing the freezing mark, along with snow and rain, according to Weather.com.
“Fog, ice, clouds and high humidity will continue to plague the summit through the night,” Mauna Kea Weather Center’s forecasters wrote Tuesday evening. “There is a risk for a mixture of snow/rain especially for the evening hours and perhaps near sunrise tomorrow.”
A snowstorm hit the peak of Mauna Kea on Monday, forcing officials to close the summit to the public and evacuate staff working in the area.
Snow is common on the Big Island of Hawaii, which houses four of the five major climate zones (including tundra!) found on the planet.
Every year, however, people in the continental U.S., whose idea of the Hawaiian islands is perfect beaches with palm trees, are understandably surprised to see photos of snowcapped island mountains.
In fact, in March, Hawaii had more snow in one week than Denver or Chicago had in the first two months of 2017. The Big Island even saw snow this summer after thunderstorms brought sleet and snow to Mauna Kea in August.
Although Hawaii’s summits get snow nearly every year ― it happened in 2014, 2015 and 2016 ― The Washington Post’s deputy weather editor, Angela Fritz, pointed out that snow in Hawaii is especially peculiar since snowfall is at a record low for the U.S.
But there’s one state that’s getting perhaps more than its share of snow this week — Hawaii. Which is just so strange. Not that Hawaii doesn’t get snow — the mountain peaks are often snowy through the winter — but it’s odd to be talking about record-low snow extent in one story, and then turn around and see videos like this from Hawaii.