Hawaii snow covering Mauna Kea
Hawaii snow covering Mauna Kea
Yes, it's snowing in Hawaii.

But don't panic, it's not the end of days. It's only snowing on Hawaii's high mountain volcano summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

Both mountains are under a winter storm warning until Wednesday evening.

The National Weather Service said "fog, ice, snow and very strong winds" will hammer the Big Island summits through Wednesday, with up to 14 inches of snow possible.

"Plan on difficult travel conditions," the weather service warned, with "visibility near zero at times."

High temperatures should be in the 30s and low temperatures in the 20s.

Lower elevations of the Big Island, as well as the rest of the island chain, are under a flash flood watch due to a forecast of pounding rain and thunderstorms.

Though it was snowing at the tops of the Big Island summits, temperatures were mild throughout the rest of Hawaii, with high temperatures forecast in the 70s.
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In the colder months, it's not uncommon for snow to fall on on Hawaii's mountain peaks, since they are nearly 14,000 feet high. Mauna Kea has a sub-Arctic climate, the weather service said.

"As long as we have deep enough clouds to support ice crystals, and when you have cold enough temperatures at the summit level, you can get snowfall," said Matthew Foster, a staff meteorologist with the weather service in Honolulu.

Snow has been reported on both mountains a couple of times this winter. Last winter, a blizzard warning was issued for the summits. Mauna Loa and its sister peak of Mauna Kea are both volcanoes. Mauna Kea is the highest point in the state.

"We'll probably see three to five snow events a year during the cold season. Some years we might not get any, some years we might get more," said Foster.

The only other area of Hawaii that gets snow with any regularity is the Haleakalā volcano on Maui, which at about 10,000 feet gets snow once every five years or so, the weather service said.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii was 12 degrees on Mauna Kea on May 17, 1979, the weather service said.