Snow falls in Hawaii, Mauna Kea summit closes - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Snow falls in Hawaii, Mauna Kea summit closes

Steve Odinetz Steve Odinetz
Stewart Hunter Stewart Hunter
Michael Thomas Michael Thomas
MAUNA KEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Despite reports from the National Weather Service that predicted at least half a foot of snow, only 1-2 inches fell on Mauna Kea early Friday morning.

"It was raining quite a bit in Hilo and we were trying to get a break, said Steve Odinetz, who is visiting from Virginia. "We thought, 'Let's see what we can see up here.'"

What Odinetz saw when he got up to the visitor information station was what all of the mountain's visitors were greeted with on Friday, a 'Road Closed' sign barring access to Mauna Kea's summit.

"The roads are still icy," said Stewart Hunter, general manager, Mauna Kea Observatory Support Services.

"Unfortunately, the temperature is below freezing, so it's treacherous driving conditions and visibility is limited."

Time lapse video taken of the summit showed a brief flurry of hail that also dropped 1-2 inches of snow in a matter of five minutes.

The hazardous conditions also prevented the Thomas family from fulfilling their mother's final request.

"It was her wishes to come to the first snow, the first good snow this year," said Waimea resident Michael Thomas, who planned to spread his mother's ashes on the mountain.

"Part of her always wanted to be up Mauna Kea. We got her ashes in here with some flowers from Waimea and hope to get up there and make her happy.

While the winter storm is happening late in the season, officials say it's not unusual to see conditions like this all year long.

"Storms can occur at any month of the year," Hunter said. "A couple years ago, we had snow in June over Kamehameha Day weekend."

The National Weather Service said a Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect for elevations above 8,000 feet on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa until 6 a.m. Sunday. Forecasters expect 1 to 2 inches of snow overnight.

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