Hawaii sits 20 degrees of latitude south of where Colorado sits, has mostly a tropical climate and is surrounded by ocean, yet, portions of the island chain are bracing for blizzard conditions. While Colorado is no stranger to blizzard conditions, this season all types of frozen precipitation have been quite rare.
It is fairly common for the highest elevations (above 11,000 feet) in Hawaii to receive snow, which means the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are often the most likely places to see it occur. A Kona low is what is drawing in a lot of moisture from the south while a cold front sweeps through bringing the chill needed atop the biggest mountains. Of course, not all of Hawaii is going to see snow. The lower elevations are bracing for several inches of rain and mudslides in the coming days.
The weather in Hawaii right now is pretty active. There are flood watches, high surf warnings, high wind warnings and blizzard warnings in effect across the archipelago chain. This weekend in paradise is likely to be a bit of a washout for the folks who live or are vacationing there. Up to 8 inches of rain may fall on the Big Island this weekend, while up to a foot of snow impacts the highest peaks. Winds will gust up to 100 mph at times on the mountaintops while lower elevations brace for 40-60 mph winds. On top of this, the coastal areas of the Big Island are expecting 20- to 30-foot waves this weekend as a result of this Kona low.
This is the weather, minus the big surf, that we so desperately need here in Colorado. Rain or snow is severely lacking and temperatures are drying things out even faster thanks to how anomalously warm they have been. Some places across Colorado just hit their hottest temperature ever recorded in December.
This early-December heat is coming after one of Colorado’s warmest November’s on record. There are some changes coming. By next week, the pattern is supposed to change up a bit and we could be looking at a series of storms impacting Colorado’s mountains. The possibility of snow in Denver is there although it is not that high. While we still wait for our first snow in Denver, know that snow is coming eventually. It may not be as much as what we hope for, but at this point, we will take anything we can get.
Snowpack numbers are sitting at 66-percent of normal statewide with even lower values being experienced in the San Juan mountains. December is a time when our mountains can accrue a lot of water from snow, so lets hope that this December pans out as we so direly need it to.
Andy Stein is a freelance meteorologist.
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