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PHOTO UPDATE: Snow in Hawai‘i

December 22, 2017, 9:57 AM HST
* Updated December 22, 11:08 AM
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UKIRT Observatory, Dec. 20, 2017. PC: Hawaii Forest & Trails.

As of Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, The road to the summit of Mauna Kea remains closed to the public at the Visitor Information Station at an elevation of 9,200 feet due to icy road conditions, high humidity and freezing temperatures throughout the night.

The road will re-opened as soon as the weather and the roads are safe again.

Summit temperatures will be near 35.6°F this afternoon, 34°F this evening and 33°F tonight/tomorrow morning. Winds will be from the north today, moderate/strong through today and slowly tapering through the evening and night when they will blow at 20 to 30 mph.

Road closures typically occur during winter months due to ice or snow on the road and occasionally for high wind situations. Specific road closure criteria are listed below:

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.

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There are very few road closures from April 1 through Nov. 30.

Snow on Mauna Kea, Dec. 22, 2017, from Waikoloa Beach Resort. PC: Joy Cruz-Lentz.

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Mauna Kea weather varies widely.

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.

Summit winds above 120 mph are not uncommon. Snowstorms have even occurred during the summer months.

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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. Remember that 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.

Mauna Kea snow from Hilo. Dec. 22, 2017. PC: Crystal Richard

Mauna Kea snow from Hilo. Dec. 22, 2017. PC: Crystal Richard

Mauna Kea snow from Hilo Bay, Dec. 22, 2017. PC: Crystal Richard

Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa snow from Hilo. Dec. 22, 2017. PC: Crystal Richard

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