Snow in Maui: ‘Historic’ winter storm hits Hawaii with record-high waves, flooding and extreme winds

Snow in Maui: ‘Historic’ winter storm hits Hawaii with record-high waves, flooding and extreme winds
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An extremely powerful winter storm is pulling away from Hawaii after unleashing damaging winds, massive waves, coastal flooding, and snow in unusual places.

The storm, which the National Weather Service office in Honolulu described as “historic,” first began pounding the islands Friday. Hawaii News Now reported a 66-year old California man died in the rough surf off northwest Maui on Friday.

“(Forecasters) are calling this an unprecedented event and we concur that we rarely if ever have seen the combination of record high on-shore waves, coupled with gale force winds,” said Sam Lemmo, administrator of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

The storm’s most extreme blow was generated on the Big Island’s towering peak of Mauna Kea where a 191-mph wind gust blasted the mountain summit at 4:40 p.m. local time Sunday.

“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.”

The visitor station on the 13,308 foot mountain is closed until Tuesday “due to the predicted continuation of severe weather,” according to the station’s website. The road is shut down whenever visibility drops below 50 feet, or winds gust to 65 mph or greater.

Hawaii saw a mixed bag of bizarre precipitation over the weekend as well. Several inches of snow fell on Haleakalā, a shield volcano in East Maui – something Jelsema describes as “very unusual.”

The storm even deposited a coating of snow at Kaui’s Polipoli State Park at an elevation of just 6,200 feet according to Hawaii’s DLNR.
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