High winds whip summits, Mauna Kea road closed

Joint Astronomy Center photo shows the summit of Mauna Kea on Saturday at 8:06 a.m. HST

Joint Astronomy Center photo shows the summit of Mauna Kea on Saturday at 8:06 a.m. HST

by David Corrigan

MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – A high wind warning is in effect for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on Hawaii Island.

The road to the summit of Mauna Kea was closed to the public at the Visitor Information Station on Saturday, due to sustained winds in the 60 to 70 mile per hour range. “These very high winds exceed our road closure criteria,” wrote Mauna Kea rangers in a morning update.

The Mauna Kea Observatories Forecast warns of a snow event by the end of the weekend.

…there is a very high risk for fog, ice and snow between late Saturday evening and Tuesday night. There is also a possibility for periods of heavy snow and deep convection in the area mainly for Sunday and Monday. Large drifts could also become an issue as winds are expected to remain quite strong throughout the low’s/front’s tenure in the areaMauna Kea Observatories Forecast on Feb. 28, 2014

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which oversees the summit of Mauna Loa, issued their own alert on Friday.

Preliminary forecasts from the National Weather Service indicates the possibility of severe winter weather on Mauna Loa this weekend 3/1 and 3/2. The National Weather Service has not issued any advisories at this time. However, hikers should be aware that severe weather may be impacting the park and visitors on the mountain need to be prepared to take appropriate measures if caught in a storm. HVNP on Feb. 28, 2014

The National Weather Servive says the very strong winds will continue over the Big Island summits ahead of an incoming cold front. The warning will last until 6 p.m. HST this evening.

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