Hawaii’s Big Island has been in the news recently for a very rare and unusual phenomenon — a thundersnow.
According to a National Weather Service report, Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii, on Sunday, was hit by a significant amount of snowfall “with continuous thunder and lightning”.
The Climate Going Haywire In Hawaii
Hawaii Island, also called the Big Island, is the largest in the Hawaii chain. Now, although it’s nothing odd for snowfall to occur in Hawaii, the same cannot be said about thundersnow.
According to a tweet by NWS Honolulu, Mauna Kea rangers reported significant snowfall with “continuous thunder and lightning over the summits”.
— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) December 18, 2016
Only days earlier, the Twitter handle of NWS Honolulu informed about cold front reaching the Big Island. It also informed about imminent drier atmosphere with “dew points dropping to upper 50s”.
Cold front over Oahu should reach the Big Island tonight. Drier air will funnel over the state, with dewpoints dropping to the upper 50s!
— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) December 15, 2016
Snowing is a weird phenomenon in the Aloha State, but people seem to be having fun with it. Locals and tourist are tweeting photographs of building snowmen or sliding down on the sides.
The Reason For Odd Snow
Thundersnow isn’t a very common phenomenon per se. According to a Mother Nature network report, only 0.07 percent of snowstorms are associated with thunder.
The report explain thundersnow as a result of thunder and lightning occurring during a snowstorm. Furthermore, University of Missouri atmospheric scientist Patrick Market, confirmed that heavy snowfall is common phenomenon during thundersnow.
This brings us to wonder why it snows in Hawaii. Hawaii is a place, which is torrid enough to be a hub for tourists surfing in the ocean’s warmer waters.
The answer to this question is not rocket science, apparently. The Big Island is a convergence point to different climatic zones, with tropical rainforests, dry lava fields and snowcapped mountains.
That being said, snowfall occurs only at very high elevations of the Hawaiian Islands. Therefore, it would be safe to say that your beach days won’t be affected by the otherwise bitter cold.