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Maunakea Summit Road Open… For Now

December 5, 2017, 10:37 AM HST
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Sunrise on Maunakea, Dec. 4, 2017. Front page featured image of snow on Maunakea, Dec. 4, 2017. PC: Hawaii Forest & Trail. 

After performing remedial work and grading after ice and snow accumulations at the end of November, Maunakea’s summit access road has reopened to the public.

Visitors to the summit should keep in mind that even a calm sunny day may quickly become treacherous with hurricane force winds and blizzard conditions, according the the Maunakea Weather Center.

Current conditions (see below for details) at the summit are cold. The temperature this morning at approximately 10 a.m. was 27.5 oF. The wind chill factor of 11 mph reduces the temperature to 17.6 oF.

Maunakea Rangers announced that the road to the summit of Maunakea closed at the Visitor Information Station at the 9,200-foot elevation in Nov. 27, 2017, due to hail and snowfall accumulating on the roadways causing unsafe road conditions.

Vehicular access above Halepohaku area will be by four-wheel drive only and no two-wheel drive vehicles will be allowed past the end of the pave road.

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Road closures typically occur during winter months due to ice or snow on the road and occasionally for high wind situations.

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Specific road closure criteria are:

1. Any ice or snow on the road.
2. Winds greater than 55 mph for more than one hour and/or gusts greater than 65 mph.
3. Visibility less than 50 feet.
4. Any emergent condition that makes the road unsafe for travel.

There are very few road closures from April 1 through Nov. 30; however, snow fell on May 1 this year, illustrating that snowstorms can even occur in the summer months. .

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Mauna Kea weather varies widely.

Summit winds above 120 mph are not uncommon.

When conditions are too dangerous, the Summit Access road is closed at the Visitor Information Station to ensure everyone’s safety. The road is re-opened as soon as the weather and the roads are safe again.

Traffic delays and road closures on the summit access road may also occur due to the use and transport of heavy equipment, slow vehicle movements, deliveries, road maintenance, stalled or abandoned vehicles, hikers and bikers.

Dust, fog or snow can reduce visibility and slow traffic. Specific road closure criteria is listed below:

1. Any ice or snow on the road.
2. Winds greater than 55 mph for one hour and/or gusts greater than 65 mph.
3. Visibility less than 50 feet.
4. Any emergent condition that makes the road unsafe for travel.

Those who would like to visit Maunakea from a warm, safe distance, can view the surrounding area from an assortment of online webcam links.

Summit Weather via the CFHT/GEMINI WX Tower and SUBARU


Most Recent Previous 24 hours Options
Dec 05 2017, 09:52 HST Minimum Maximum UTC | HST
Temperature -2.5 oC – 27.5 oF -4.2 oC @ 07:10 6.0 oC @ 16:47 oC | K | F
Wind Chill -8.0 oC – 17.6 oF -13.2 oC @ 06:58 13.7 oC @ 22:36 oC | K | F
Relative Humidity 10% 6% @ 08:33 47% @ 16:31
Pressure 616 mb 614 mb @ 04:23 617 mb @ 10:41  
Wind speed 11 mph 0 mph @ 22:35 43 mph @ 04:21 mph | Kts | m/s
Wind direction South dir | deg
Precipitation (as of 8 am) 0.00 mm mm | inches
Fog No

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