(BIVN) – The passing kona low weather system that hammered Hawaiʻi with strong winds and heavy rain, also buried the summits of Maunakea and Mauna Loa in snow.
On Wednesday, the University of Hawaiʻi issued a news release, explaining that the UH-Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship anticipates the road to the summit will remain closed for at least the next couple of days. A “very hard covering of ice and icy snow along with snow drifts” on the Maunakea Access Road is making it “exceptionally difficult for CMS staff to clear.”
From the news release:
The center is working as quickly as possible to reopen the road above the Visitor Station. Once CMS crews are able to clear one lane they will limit access to essential personnel until the road can fully be reopened.
“Our top priority is keeping the public and our employees safe while on Maunakea,” said Greg Chun. “We understand many are eager to head up to enjoy the wintry weather, however until conditions are safe and full access of the road is restored we humbly ask for everyone’s kōkua and patience.”
The public is asked to remember that the summit of Maunakea can be extremely dangerous. The weather can change rapidly, resulting in severe conditions including freezing temperatures, blizzards and high winds.
Emergency services may be two hours away because of its remote location. Cell phone coverage is unreliable, and there is one public emergency phone on the summit. For everyone’s safety, please heed all directions and precautions from Maunakea Rangers.
In 2021, at least two car crashes were reported after heavy snowfall on the mauna, including an overturned vehicle, as there is normally an increase in summit traffic after winter storms. The summit access road is approximately 8 miles long, and the first 5 miles are unpaved with steep inclines, poor traction, narrow sections where two way traffic is not possible, blind curves and rocks on the road.
Related UH News story: Hawaiʻi Island residents urged to exercise caution on Maunakea summit, February 3, 2021
Be safe and respectful
Everyone is encouraged to act in a safe and responsible manner while on Maunakea and look out and care for others because of the dangerous conditions. Please be respectful of the fact that Maunakea is one the most revered places in Hawaiʻi, and many visit the mauna for cultural and religious practices.
A closure of the Mauna Loa summit, under National Park Service management, was already in place due to the recent volcanic eruption on the Northeast Rift Zone.