When the winter weather forecast came out last week, a lot of people were thinking it was going to be a snowy winter in Hawaii. Snow was expected to fall on the mountain summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, which rise to elevations above 12,000 feet — not uncommon for an island that’s only nine miles long and eight miles wide.
Snow can usually be seen on the two volcanic peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna loa on the Big Island. The two peaks, which sit at more than 13,000 feet above sea level, are the only places in Hawaii that receive snow on an annual basis.
There are other areas on the islands that do not receive snow, including Hualalai, Pu’u Kukui, and Kaunu o Kaleihoohie.
It’s very rare for Hawaii to experience a snowstorm, but it does happen. It’s most likely to occur on the Big Island’s highest peaks between December and February.
During the winter months, snowfall is more frequent on these mountain peaks because they drop their temperatures below freezing.
When it snows, it’s usually a dusting and will eventually melt away.
Some snowfall can last up to three days, depending on the strength of the storm and how much it lingers.
The biggest winter storm in Hawaii’s history occurred on January 2020, when a low-pressure system called a “Kona low” dropped 1-3 feet of snow on the volcanoes of Mauna Kea and Mauna LOA. This event was one of the most memorable snowstorms in the state’s history and also brought some of Hawaii’s best ski and snowboarding conditions to Mauna Kea.