Snow closes Haleakala National Park and creates social media buzz
  • Monday, June 17, 2019
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Snow closes Haleakala National Park and creates social media buzz

  • COURTESY DAVID SCHOONOVER

    At least 6 inches to a foot of snow fell at Haleakala summit Saturday night into Sunday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Foster.

  • BRYAN BERKOWITZ / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    Snow on Haleakala can been seen from a distance on Olinda Road in Makawao.

  • BRYAN BERKOWITZ / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    Resident Susan Moulton and visitors Duane and Kelly Randall pull over on Olinda Road in Makawao to take photos of Haleakala.

Snow on Haleakala?

Yes, that was snow, and snow is still lingering on top of Haleakala National Park, which remains closed.

The summit remains impassable due to snow drifts and ice on the road, according to spokeswoman Nancy Stimson, as well as fallen trees and rocks, leading to extremely hazardous conditions, she said. In addition, there are power outages throughout the summit district.

People are encouraged to enjoy the view from down-country and not try to enter the park. Rangers will be enforcing the closure at the summit district entrance at 6,500 feet.

There was a buzz about the snow at Haleakala over social media. The State Division of State Parks reported in a Facebook post that “for perhaps the first time ever, snow has fallen in a Hawaii State Park.”

“Polipoli State Park on Maui is blanketed with snow,” said DLNR in a post yesterday. “It could also be the lowest elevation snow ever recorded in the state. Polipoli is at 6,200 feet elevation.”

Even celebrity Bette Midler tweeted: “Oh, my God. Snow has fallen on #Maui for the first time in history.”

But it is not the first time snow has fallen on Maui. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist from Alaska, tweeted a 1962 issue of Weatherwise, during which the lowest-known altitude of snow on Haleakala was at 7,500 feet in 1952.

At least six inches to a foot of snow fell at Haleakala summit Saturday night into Sunday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Foster. The NWS does not have a station posted at the summit to verify the amount of snow, but a park ranger reported seeing four-foot drifts, he said.

Powerful gusts wreaked havoc across the state on Sunday, resulting in blown roofs, downed trees and power outages across the state. High surf on the north and west sides of Oahu caused water to wash over roads, and a 27-foot sailboat to break free from its mooring at Lahaina Small Boat Harbor and wash onto rocks on Front Street.

Meanwhile, winds were clocked at 191 mph on top of Mauna Kea at 4:40 p.m. on Sunday, said Foster.

Strong winds, surf and rain brought by the low-pressure system is expected to lift northeast and away from the state over the next couple of days, according to the weather service.

A high surf warning, meanwhile, remains in effect for the north- and west-facing shores of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu and Molokai, and for the north-facing shores of Maui and the Big Island, through 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Surf is expected to reach 20 to 25 feet tonight along the north and west facing shores of Niihau and Kauai, and the north facing shores of Oahu, Molokai and Maui. Surf is expected to reach 12 to 20 feet tonight along west facing shores of Oahu and Molokai.

“Winter’s not over yet,” said Foster.” But the immediate threat from this strong, low pressure system is about over. We may still get some surf on the north shores of Big Island and Maui … but for the most part, winds, snowfall and surf are down from their peak yesterday.”

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