Heavy snowfall blanketed Hawaii’s Mauna Kea on December 2, as captured in this timelapse taken from the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). The winter conditions forced the closure of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park after snow and strong winds enveloped the Big Island mountain summits, according to local news reports. CFHT shared via Twitter that access to Summit Road was closed due to falling snow and icy conditions. A winter storm warning remains in effect at the time of writing for the Big Island Summits. A weather report indicated the summits could receive between 20 to 30 inches of snow on Saturday. This video shows a timelapse of the snow accumulating on the Gemini Observatory dome, located beside the CFHT, on Mauna Kea. Credit: Canada France Hawaii Telescope via Storyful
PARTS of the sunny US state of Hawaii have been hit by a thick blanket of snow over the past few days.
While weather experts say it isn’t unusual for snow to fall in the tropical holiday destination, it is rare for it to fall so heavily, and at such low altitudes, The Sun reports.
The snow is falling heaviest around two of the state’s highest peaks, where it has been measured at 90cm by telescopes.
The heavy snow and howling winds have also reduced visibility on the state’s Big Island to below a quarter of a mile in some locations.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the island’s volcanic peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, the rest of the state was subject to a flash flood watch on Sunday, with heavy showers and thunderstorms forecast.
The National Weather Service said: “Heavier downpours and thunderstorms could cause streams to quickly overflow their banks, leading to flash flooding.”
According to the weather service, snow on Hawaii’s mountain tops isn’t uncommon in the colder months of the year as the peaks are nearly 4270m high.
Staff meteorologist Matthew Foster told USA Today: “As long as we have deep enough clouds to support ice crystals, and when you have cold enough temperatures at the summit level, you can get snowfall.”
Mr Foster also said Hawaii sees “three to five snow events a year during the cold season”.
He added: “Some years we might not get any, some years we might get more.”
According to the weather service, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii was -11C on May 17, 1979.
Social media users have reacted in shock with the news of snow hitting the tropical holiday destination.
Locals have also shared snaps of the snow-covered state.
— Kīlauea EcoGuides (@KilaueaEcoGuide) December 2, 2016
KilaueaEcoGuide wrote: “Snow in Hawaii! The summit #MaunaKea dusted with snow and ice this morning #HawaiianSnow.”
Hawaiian blogger Damon Tucker shared a snap of the Big Island, tweeting: “Snow drifts in #Hawaii over 10 feet tall on #MaunaKea #SnowInHawaii #HappyHolidays.”
— Damon Tucker (@damontucker) December 4, 2016
When there’s snow in Hawaii but not Missouri🙂❄️
— Gabby Victor (@Gabbbboo) December 2, 2016
Gabby Victor pointed out that typically snowy US states are currently dry without a blanket of frost as she wrote: “When there’s snow in Hawaii but not Missouri.”
And Jeydieinc expressed her confusion: “I wasn’t paying attention to the TV but I think I just heard there is a snow advisory!??? In Hawaii!!?? I’m confused!”
I wasn’t paying attention to the tv but I think I just heard there is a snow advisory!??? In Hawaii!!?? I’m confused!
— jeydieinc (@jeydieinc) December 1, 2016
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.