As parts of the southeast and southern U.S. see record-breaking warm temperatures, some parts of Hawaii are facing a blizzard warning for the weekend. The forecast blizzard would be the first to hit Hawaii since 2018, the National Weather Service confirmed to CBS News.
The blizzard warning is the result of a storm system that’s expected to rip through the state’s islands this weekend. The National Weather Service said the summits of the largest island in the state, where the warning was issued, could see 12 inches or more of total snow accumulation with wind gusts of over 100 miles per hour.
“A cold front will move across the island chain tonight and Friday, then stall near the Big Island Saturday,” the National Weather Service in Honolulu tweeted Thursday. “Low pressure will drop down toward the state later in the weekend and into early next week, with wet weather expected across most of the state.”
And while snow is fairly common for Hawaii’s highest elevations, like the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, regions like Haleakala on Maui — which is not included in the warning — only observe snow nearly once every two to three years, according to the National Weather Service.
The persistent low-pressure storm, called a Kona Low, and an incoming cold front are behind the conditions, a representative for the National Weather Service told CBS News. The system is forecast to develop west of Kauai, bringing a prolonged period of heavy rainfall to all of Hawaii’s islands.
A flash flood watch is in effect through Monday afternoon for the entire state, and there are warnings for high wind and high surf issued for portions of Hawaii.
“Significant flooding may occur due to the overflow of streams and drainages,” the National Weather Service said. “Roads in several areas may be closed, along with property damage in urban or low lying spots due to runoff…Landslides may also occur in areas with steep terrain.”
The agency warns that high winds can knock down tree branches, blow away tents and capsize vessels. Blizzard conditions could make travel “very difficult to impossible” and will “significantly reduce visibility at times, with periods of zero visibility,” it said.
Those under flood watches are encouraged to move to higher ground immediately and to not cross through fast-flowing water by vehicle or foot. Travelers are advised to consider postponing trips to the island’s summits until conditions improve and are recommended to use extra caution if they must travel there.