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Does It Snow In Hawaii?

In 2010, during one of the cold and snowy stretches that hit the US, 49 out of 50 states had snow on the ground…Hawaii was the exception.  During the winter of 2009-10, Hawaii had virtually no snow to speak of.   With yet another cold and snowy winter on hand, on January 11/12, once again 49 out of 50 states had snow on the ground…Florida was the exception.

I recently saw a question on Yahoo Answers that asked about where one should go to see snow.  Although the asker was open to taking a trip to the mainland to do so, its really not necessary.

With Haleakala on Maui at 10,023′ above sea level, Mauna Loa at 13,679′ and Mauna Kea standing at 13,796′, both on the Big Island;  all three are subject to getting snow during the winter months.  This is especially true in January and February.

As a matter of fact, most years Mauna Kea receives enough snow that there is a ski club that takes advantage of the snowfall.  I don’t mean to imply its ever going to challenge Aspen as a ski destination since Mauna Kea probably only averages about a foot and a half of snow a year, but they do ski there.

Hawaii had snow on Haleakala, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on January 11-12, 2011.  In fact, the weather service issued a winter storm warning for all three areas that day.  As you might imagine, Hawaii doesn’t actually spend a lot of money buying snow removal equipment, so they close the roads down until the snow melts off the roads, which usually only takes a day or two.

However, what that also means is, if you are planning on catching sunrise on Haleakala or visiting the summit of Mauna Kea to observe sunset or stopping at the Onizuka Visitors Center for their nightly star-gazing program during the winter months, you should check the weather reports and make sure the roads are open.

Snow on Mauna Loa as seen from the road to South Point, Big Island.

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