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Snow on the summit of Mauna Kea: it’s not exactly a rare sight during a Hawaiian winter.
But how about in June?
With just a few days removed from the official start of summer, the summit of the Big Island’s biggest mountain was covered by white after a passing thunderstorm dropped inches of ice at the 13,000 foot level.
Noteworthy weather for Waimea resident Pam Akao, her daughter and her friends…
“It was hailing in Waimea!” said Pam. “I dont know if it has to do the with the world climate change, or what.”
The Mauna Kea Access Road was closed for a period this weekend, but by Sunday afternoon, the summit was open to the public once more.
Employees on the roofs of the summit observatories worked to clear as much snow from the telescopes as possible before nightfall.
The roads were in good condition, and although the mountain was quiet for a snow day, there were still some brave groups who ventured up.
The snowy slopes were not ideal for sledding, but it was difficult for Akao and the kids to resist going down on their bodyboards.
Their second run illustrated the dangers that can be present on the mountain. Hitting one of Mauna Kea’s large rocks is an easy mistake to make.
Luckily no one was hurt, but it was a reminder that this sort of recreational use of the mountain has its pitfalls. It is also important to keep in mind the altitude: respiratory issues, frigid temperatures, and snow blindness are all potential problems at 13,000 feet above sea level.
And what’s a trip to the top of Mauna Kea without bringing a little snow back down, where Hawaii enjoys its typical climate… at a warm 80 degrees.