Snow, ice closes road to Mauna Kea summit


BY CAROLYN LUCAS-ZENK

WEST HAWAII TODAY

clucas-zenk@westhawaiitoday.com

Moisture and sub-freezing temperatures brought a wintry mix of snow and rain to Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa summits, causing delight along with danger and a road closure Sunday.

The Mauna Kea Access Road closed early Sunday morning at the Visitor Information Station and the closure was still in effect, as of press time.

"It's snowing and lightning at the Visitor Information Station and snow is accumulating on the summit road," rangers said in a message posted at 7:09 a.m. Sunday. "The road below the Visitor Information Station is slippery and dangerous."

This road is typically closed when the pavement has ice or snow, the morning after a snowfall, and while snow removal equipment is in operation.

At 5:48 p.m. Sunday, Mauna Kea rangers anticipated the road would "probably be closed" today pending weather. They also planned to conduct an inspection this morning.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a winter storm warning until 6 a.m. today for Big Island upper slopes and summits. Hazards include freezing rain and black ice.

"A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice are expected or occurring. Strong winds are also possible. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible," according to the National Weather Service.

Call 935-6268 to get the latest public road conditions and snow report. For more information, visit prh.noaa.gov/hnl or mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu.