A Hawaii of Extremes: ONE Storm, ‘3 Potential State Records’ Incl Snow, Cold & Wind

Written by on February 21, 2019 in Rest of World, United States of America with 0 Comments

An unusually deep and cold low passed to the north of the Hawaiian Island chain last weekend bringing some highly unusual weather. Strong winds, and even snow and high level mountain snow isn’t uncommon during winter here but the level of cold, low level snow and intensity of wind may have been record breaking.

Here’s a nice visible satellite image of the storm to the north of the islands.

This system was quite special. The reason? It was unusually deep and unusually cold and many have set not one but 3 potential state records.

First of all, this storm was exceptionally cold and this brought two rarities.

Excerpts from wunderground.com


If conditions on Hawaii’s higher elevations didn’t set all-time records, they certainly came close. Snowfall was reported near the top of Haleakala, on Maui, and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources reported on Facebookthat Polipoli State Park on Maui, with an elevation of around 6200 feet, was blanketed with snow on Sunday. “It [could be] the lowest elevation snow ever recorded in the state,” said the agency. Given the temperature regime in place, the frozen precipitation at Polipoli State Park may have been graupel (soft hail or snow pellets) rather than classic snowfall (see weather.com for details).

Capital Weather Gang

“Perhaps the first time ever, snow has fallen in a Hawai‘i State Park,” the DLNR posted to its Facebook page Sunday. “Polipoli State Park on Maui is blanketed with snow. It could also be the lowest elevation snow ever recorded in the state.”


Temperatures at the observatories near the summit of Mauna Kea, which sits 13,802 feet above sea level on Hawaii’s Big Island, dipped below 12°F at several locations early Sunday, including the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). This is almost certainly the coldest place in Hawaii, but changes in instruments and observing practices make it hard to know exactly how cold Mauna Kea has been during the era of modern observing. The NOAA State Climate Extremes Committee lists 12°F from Mauna Kea on May 17, 1979, as the official state record low for Hawaii. However, the observation report for that day shows that the 12°F was incompatible with other temperature readings that day and was later corrected upward to 21°F, according to WU weather historian Chris Burt, who added that a 9°F reading from January 1976 from may have also been unreliable. In a 2011 blog post, Burt cited a 15°F reading on Jan. 5, 1975, as the most likely record, which implies that the state record may have fallen several times over the last few years given the growth in observations atop Mauna Kea.


A wind gust to 191 mph was also reported at the CFHT site on Sunday. It wasn’t immediately clear how this gust stood relative to the strongest winds on record at this very windy location. Winds at the Mauna Loa Observatory averaged roughly 16-22 meters per second (36-49 mph) from early Sunday to early Monday, compared to the site’s highest 24-hour average of 24.8 meters per second (55.5 mph), observed on Dec. 25, 2014.

Capital Weather Gang

“That’s the strongest wind gust I’ve ever seen up there,” said Jon Jelsema, senior forecaster at the Weather Service office in Honolulu. “We tend to get a gust maybe to 150 mph once a winter or so, but never 191 mph.”

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