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Snow Blankets Mauna Kea in Hawaii June 2011 

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Old 06-08-2011, 02:47 PM
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Snow Blankets Mauna Kea in Hawaii June 2011

Snow blankets Mauna Kea
Submitted by htribadmin on June 6, 2011 - 23:02
Click the image to view gallery Snow blankets Mauna Kea

By COLIN M. STEWART

Tribune-Herald staff writer

The sight of Mauna Kea's white peaks can be startling to Big Island visitors during the winter months. But even longtime residents were taken aback when the mountain collected between 6 and 12 inches of snow and hail on Saturday, just two weeks shy of the summer solstice.

"This last snowfall episode was very impressive as far as totals/coverage is concerned," said Ryan Lyman, a forecast meteorologist with the Mauna Kea Weather Center.

According to Lyman, a cursory review of a weather log dating back to 1982 kept by staff at the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope found few recordings of snowfall this close to the summer. The log noted snowfall on Mauna Kea on May 29 and 30 in 1988, July 1 in 1990, and Aug. 7 in 1992. But, Lyman said, "I would heavily wager that the three examples above didn't have nearly the same coverage/snow."

The snowfall began Saturday afternoon as the result of a cold, upper-level low pressure system in the atmosphere above the Big Island, said Robert Ballard, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service in Honolulu. In such instances, he said, surface temperatures can remain normal, but very cold and moisture-rich air can prompt thunderstorms and snow at the higher altitudes.

"The type of system we had over the last few days isn't too uncommon during the winter months," Ballard said, "but this one is a little out of season."

According to Mauna Kea ranger Bruce Heidenfeldt, the snow closed down the summit road from Saturday afternoon through Sunday, until about 11 a.m. or noon.

"On Saturday morning, it was just a beautiful day," he said. "But by midday, it got ugly. We had a low cell in there, and she just dumped hail and snow here all the way from HP (Hale Pohaku, the dormitories for Mauna Kea Observatories) down to the cattle guard (located near the intersection of Mauna Kea Access Road and Saddle Road). We had drifts up to 3 feet in some areas. ... It was really wild, with a lot of lightning."

According to Ballard, thunderstorms are a relatively reliable indicator that Mauna Kea will get a dusting.

"There was this lady who posted on Twitter recently that any time you have thunderstorms in Waimea, it means snow at the summit," he said. "And you know, that's a pretty good correlation. It may not be perfect, but it's pretty close."

By late afternoon Monday, Heidenfeldt said that the snow cover at Mauna Kea above 12,000 feet was about 60 percent and patchy. He expected it would melt quickly.

The ranger said he'd seen about a dozen kids trying to snowboard on the mountain, but they had begun to abandon their attempts as the snow melted.

Ballard said the National Weather Service has recommended that no one attempt to ski, snowboard or otherwise travel on the snow atop Mauna Kea.

"We don't encourage that," he said. "There have been stories of people getting nasty head injuries. ... It's just so jagged up there."

He added that there are some very good chances that this won't be the last snow the mountain sees this summer.

"There is actually another upper low which is forecast to drop south over the islands by Wednesday. ... We have isolated thunderstorms in the forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon, for the leeward and interior of the Big Island, and lasting through each afternoon through Sunday," Ballard said. "Any of those could bring quick snow showers in the summits in the afternoon. Nothing really prolonged or heavy, though."

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  #2  
Old 06-08-2011, 03:47 PM
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Re: Snow Blankets Mauna Kea in Hawaii June 2011

Looks pretty

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Old 06-08-2011, 03:52 PM
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Re: Snow Blankets Mauna Kea in Hawaii June 2011

yeah it is. Makes me miss the mountains

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Old 06-08-2011, 04:16 PM
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Re: Snow Blankets Mauna Kea in Hawaii June 2011

fucking global warming

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