An unusually potent winter storm is bringing severe winds across Hawaii; it’s also bringing snow to an island that rarely sees it: Maui. A powerful winter storm will track southward toward the island
chain today, bringing a band of enhanced moisture that is likely to produce accumulating snow over the Haleakalā summit the island of Maui. In addition to the snow, very windy conditions and unusually cold temperatures are expected.
Due to the threat of wintry weather in Maui, the National Weather Service in Honolulu, Hawaii has issued a Winter Weather Advisory that is in effect from now until 6pm local time for the Haleakalā summit area above 8,000 feet. Snow beginning this morning will continue through this afternoon; the National Weather Service cautions that the snow will be locally heavy at times as intense snow showers move through. Blowing and drifting of snow is expected; total snowfall accumulations of up to 3″ is possible. With fresh snow falling and fallen snow drifting and blowing, visibility may drop below 1/4 mile at times. This could lead to dangerous travel conditions, especially for local residents and visitors accustomed to tropical weather and not winter weather.
While snow falls in Maui, strong winds are battering the islands. Because of that, a High Wind Warning is up state-wide. Winds were clocked at 155mph this morning on Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island; sustained winds of 20-40mph were reported elsewhere throughout the state. Winds could gust to/over 60mph even at coastal areas over the next 24 hours.
Snow in Maui is a rare occurrence. The tallest peak of Haleakalā , which means “House of the Sun”, stands at 10,023 feet. While the summit is often chilly, it isn’t as high as the Big Island summits that regularly fall below freezing and collect snow in winter months.