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William Nill captured this image of snow on Haleakalā at 6:18 p.m. on 3/4/15

March 5, 2015

PHOTOS: Snow Observations on Haleakalā

MauiNow has received observations of wintry weather from two workers at two observatories atop Haleakalā. William Nill, captured this image of snow…

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Swells Expected to Hold Today

Kahului, HI

Thursday 9:00 pm
Change City
66°
Overcast Humidity: 88%
Winds: 9 mph NE
 
SUNRISE: 6:43 a.m.
SUNSET: 6:32 p.m.
MOONRISE: 6:01 p.m. on preceding day
MOONSET: 6:37 a.m.
William Nill captured this image of snow on Haleakalā at 6:18 p.m. on 3/4/15

William Nill captured this image of snow on Haleakalā at 6:18 p.m. on 3/4/15

By Meteorologist Malika Dudley / Email: malika@mauinow.com

MauiNow has received observations of wintry weather from two workers at two observatories atop Haleakalā. Typically if a big snow event is expected the National Weather Service will issue a Winter Weather Advisory. That was not the case, however the conditions were right for snowfall yesterday evening.

An employee at one of the observatories reported that temperatures dipped to 30° and he saw a mix of sleet and rain with “off and on flakes that were not sticking.”

Haleakalā National Park staff were unable to confirm the reports as the ranger on duty did not observe such conditions.

William Nill, another worker at a different observatory, captured this photo of a light dusting of snow at about 10,000 feet. He says it was taken at 6:18 p.m. right as the sun was setting.

“I work at the observatory so I’m up there on the daily. It had been raining all afternoon and when temperatures dropped below 34 degrees we started looking outside for signs of snow. At around 4 p.m. we started seeing little flakes in the air, but the surface temperature wasn’t cold enough to keep it frozen on the ground. It started really coming down around 6 p.m.”

Image: University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy’s Haleakala web cam

Image: University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy’s Haleakala web cam

Real-time viewing of the summit area is available via the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy’s Haleakala web cams. You can see the snow start building at 0200 UTC (4 p.m. HST) and start melting around 0630 UTC (8:30 p.m.). The web cam observations reflect the same timing observed by observatory workers. William says the snow had all but melted by midnight and his co-workers reported no snow on the summit this morning.

Wintry weather is not unheard of on the summit of Haleakalā. In fact, just two months ago on January 3, 2015 residents reported observations of snow on the summit. Park officials reported that it was actually ice and frost, which can look like snow from a distance. Frost is moisture from humid air that settles on the ground or on plants and freezes into ice.

According to the two workers that observed yesterday’s wintry weather, it came from the sky. As frost is confined to the ground, we believe the precipitation that was observed was snow. Snow can only form in clouds as the ice crystals grow around condensation nuclei and then fall to the ground.

The peak of Haleakalā volcano is measured at 10,023 feet above sea level. It is the highest point on Maui, and the third-highest point in the state.

5 Day Forecast for Kahului Change City

Thursday

78°
69°
Partly Cloudy

Friday

76°
68°
Sunny

Saturday

77°
67°
Partly Cloudy

Sunday

73°
67°
Patchy rain nearby

Monday

76°
66°
Partly Cloudy
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