Hawaii’s Big Island saw a rare weather phenomenon this week ― a hefty dose of thundersnow. Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and the state’s highest peak, was hit Sunday by “significant snowfall with continuous thunder and lightning,” according to the National Weather Service.
Mauna Kea rangers reporting significant snowfall with continuous thunder and lightning over the summits. #thundersnow in Hawaii! #hiwx
Believe it or not, Hawaii is no stranger to snow. The state’s three tallest volcanoes — Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Haleakala — usually see snowfall a few times per year.
Thundersnow is another story, however. The phenomenon is rare in itself (only .07 percent of snowstorms are associated with thunder, according to Mother Nature Network), but this Hawaiian snowstorm is all the more unusual.
Webcam footage filmed atop Mauna Kea on Sunday showed low visibility, and some of the cameras appeared to freeze over throughout the day.
Earlier this month, more than a foot of snow fell atop Mauna Kea, bringing visitors and locals to its freshly powdered slopes to build snowmen, slide down its sides and experience the weirdness of snow in the Aloha State.
Hawaii’s Big Island, though smaller in area than the state of Connecticut, is an impressive convergence of climate zones, with tropical rainforests, dry lava fields and snowcapped mountains. It’s a place where you can go snowboarding or skiing and, a few hours later, surf in the warm ocean.
If you are planning a trip to Hawaii, don’t worry about the snow ruining your vacation. All snowfalls on the islands are located at very high elevations, so your beach days will be safe from the bitter cold.