Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mauna Kea Snow.

This week while working up at the Vis on Mauna Kea, I was called in early Tuesday morning (about 7:30) because the road to the summit needed to be closed to visitors. At that point, although there was a large mass of clouds off to the east, the weather was actually pretty nice, not raining or blowing, blue sky off to the east, not overly cold for the altitude and time of day. Fifteen minutes later, it was snowing pretty good. Since I can count the number of times I've experienced snow falling from the sky on two hands, this was a pretty big experience for me. (Thankfully I was sitting inside an idling vehicle blocking the summit road, not actually out in the snow.)

Getting snow down at the level of the Visitor Information Station, at 9,200 feet, is really quite rare. It snowed for perhaps 20 to 30 minutes before turning to a frigid rain that lasted the entire remainder of the day without pause. The snow all melted up to maybe 11,000 feet within 3 hours, but it was real pretty while it lasted. I even managed to get some pictures of it:

Looking up the summit access road, from my vantage point parked half across it.
More of the mountain slope above the Hale Pōhaku area.

I must say, snow's not so bad when sea level and warmth is just 45 minutes' drive away. I certainly wouldn't want to live with the stuff for any appreciable length of time, though.


  1. So, a funny story: a friend of mine who lived in Hawaii for a while posted this:

    "So...this kid I met in Hawaii, didn't really get to know him...He goes up the volcano, because it snowed up there, piles a bunch of snow into his truck, brings it back down. He then proceeds to build snowbunnies and snowmen out of it in his yard.
    And then he lit them on fire.
    I'm so sad I didn't get to know this guy."

    I clicked on the link, and it was a photo album with a picture of you in it. Small world, eh?

  2. I can't see it, but I can testify that going up to bring the snow back down is probably the #1 reason people go. I've even seen it piled on the top of cars, not sure how much actually makes it down that way... where was the picture of me? At the Vis, I take it?


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