By Wendy Osher
Forecasters have re-issued a winter weather advisory for the summit of Haleakalā on Maui overnight, meaning there will be periods of freezing rain, “along with a slight chance of snow showers.”
The National Weather Service had cancelled a watch for the area early this morning, but then re-issued the advisory for the area above the 9,000 foot elevation for the period beginning tonight and ending on Wednesday afternoon saying “ice accumulations up to one tenth of an inch will result in difficult travel conditions.”
The cold weather comes on the heels of a six day period of snow at the Maui summit that lasted from Sunday Feb. 10 through Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. The severe winter storm earlier this month knocked out power to the summit district, left snow and ice on the roads, and resulted in the extended closure of the summit area until the park was reopened on Feb. 16, 2019.
NOAA’s Senior Service Hydrologist with the Weather Forecast Office, Kevin Kodama called the six-day stretch on Maui unusual, saying it “probably hasn’t happened in the last 10 to 20 years.”
Forecasters do recall “much bigger snowfalls” on Hawaiʻi Island’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in the 70s and 80s, which Kodama says may have produced several consecutive days of snow on Maui similar to reports on Haleakalā earlier this month.
Since the agency doesn’t have an official Cooperative Observer at the top, Kodama said, “I think the only thing we can say is that it’s very unusual.”
A winter weather watch also remains in effect for the summits of the Big Island above the 12,000 foot elevation.
According to the NWS, “a wintry mix of precipitation could produce some light accumulations of ice and snow at the higher elevations” of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa through 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Visibility could be severely hampered and may make travel to the summits very dangerous, according to the agency.
The NWS says, “A strong upper level disturbance will pass through the area tonight and Wednesday, bringing a slight chance for thunderstorms along with the potential for some locally heavy rainfall to Maui County and the Big Island.”