Hawaii Is Getting a Blizzard (No, Seriously)

If you are looking for snow in the Lower 48, I would suggest a trip to Hawaii. Hawaii is in for a real-deal blizzard, while a good chunk of the U.S. suffers under a snow-killing heat dome.

The National Weather Service issued a rare blizzard warning for the highlands of the Big Island on Friday. Even if it weren't in the tropics, the forecast would be gnarly. It is downright amazing in the Big Island.

The NWS Honolulu office warned that travel could be difficult. There are periods of zero visibility with blowing snow.

According to the agency, the high reaches of the Big Island could see 12 inches or more, and the winds will gust more than 100 mph.

There is snow on the ground at the top of the highest point in Hawaii. The trails that head to the summit of the mountain are likely to be closed for a long time. It is about to get real.

The intensity of the forecast and snow warning language is striking, but the NWS alert for lower elevations is also there. The Big Island and the neighboring islands that make up Hawaii stretching to the northwest are under a lot of warnings and watches. The system is widespread and vigorous and the NWS is calling for significant flooding and risks of landslides on every one of the Hawaiian islands.

The storm system that will bring all this weather is known as a "Kona low." Capital Weather Gang has a nice breakdown of what makes a Kona low different from an average storm system in the area.

Prevailing winds over the islands are usually out of the east and northeast, but Kona lows draw in winds from the southwest, tapping abundant moisture.
The Kona low is expected to form west of Kauai over the weekend and linger into early next week.

On the Big Island's summits, snowfall is not uncommon. The Pacific beaches that ring the island are above the volcanoes. I can confirm that the observatory on the flanks of the volcano gets nippy. I was there in November and it was puffy jacket weather. There was snow on Mauna Kea in January.

The storm system that will hit the island chain this weekend is on a different level. If you live there, heed all warnings and road closings. Enjoy the scene from afar if you are not there. The mainland U.S. is in a state of disrepair when it comes to snow. The Lower 48 only has a small amount of snow on the ground. Mountain towns in Colorado are starting to worry about the lack of snow. The Pacific Northwest has been hammered by a series of storms, but they arrived with a blast of warm air. That means that the high altitudes saw a lot of rain. The amount of snow that is about to fall in Hawaii could mean some spare time for the islands. We could figure out how to get it to the places that need it.