MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – Astronomers and tour groups have abandoned the summit of Mauna Kea as 80 mph wind gusts and wintry weather moved in on Wednesday.
The Mauna Kea Summit Access Road was closed at the Visitor Information Station before 9 a.m. due to the conditions. The telescopes called it quits for the day, according to messages like this one from the Keck Observatory sent out over Twitter:
"Snow Day" in Hawaii — We've abandoned the summit: Sustained 75 mph winds, higher gusts, thick fog, 98% humidity and ice on Summit roads.
— Keck Observatory (@KeckObservatory) January 22, 2014
The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a High Wind Warning for the 13,000 foot summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, which is in effect until 6 p.m. HST this evening. The west winds are measuring 45 to 65 mph but localized gusts have reached a dangerous 80 mph.
There is also a Winter Weather Advisory for the summits areas, in effect until 6 p.m. HST. The National Weather Service says a cold front moving through the area will produce periods of freezing rain along with possible snow showers over the mountains. Up to one quarter inch of ice is expected to accumulate, as well as one inch or less of snow.
The wintry weather will diminish by this evening as the cold front shifts southeast of the Big Island.
There is also a Flash Flood Advisory for the drought stricken leeward side of Hawaii Island, as some much needed rainfall is soaking the region.
Flood advisory for Big Island til 315pm, particularly Puna, Kona and Kohala districts. Reports of water on the road Hawi to Kawaihae. #hiwx
— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) January 22, 2014