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Mauna Kea snow expected to melt as winds pick up

  • Heavy clouds move over Mauna Kea in this webcamera image looking south at Mauna Loa. (Courtesy Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Submillimeter Array)

  • This webcamera image shows snow melting on Mauna Kea as heavy clouds move in. (Courtesy UH Hilo Physics and Astronomy Telescope)

The burst of winter weather on Mauna Kea over the weekend has apparently come to an end. Snowfalls were replaced by freezing rain and high winds on Hawaii island summits Monday and temperatures are expected to rise above freezing today and Wednesday.

“With more sunshine and warmer temperature, I would expect what’s left of the snow will melt pretty quickly over the next couple of days,” said Robert Ballard, a forecaster with the National Weather Service Honolulu office.

Forecasters issued a high wind watch for the summits above 8,000 feet starting this morning through 6 a.m. Wednesday. Winds of 45 mph with gusts over 60 mph may blow over the summits, Ballard said.

A wind advisory is also in effect for parts of Maui County and Hawaii island through late tonight because of strong trade winds. Forecasters expect sustained winds of  20 to 40 mph, with gusts over 50 mph that could bring down tree branches, cause power outages and make driving difficult.

The advisory includes Manele, Lanai City, Kahului, Haleakala National Park above 6,000 feet, south Point, Pahala, Hilo, Volcano, Honokaa, Kamuela and Waikoloa.

The winds shouldn’t be as strong on Oahu and Kauai, where forecasters predict 15 to 30 mph winds, with higher gusts up to 50 mph in a few areas.

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