6-foot snowdrifts
close summit

While a blizzard grips Mauna Kea, most
other areas escape predicted downpours

HILO >> Weather at the top of Mauna Kea will probably be miserable for the next few days, but the rest of the state seems so far to have escaped the flooding that the National Weather Service warned was possible.

"Snow will continue probably through (this) afternoon. Poor visibility, extensive fog, ice and deep drifts expected," the Mauna Kea Weather Center Internet site advised yesterday.

The Mauna Kea Access Road to the summit was closed above Hale Pohaku at the 9,000-foot elevation yesterday even to observatory personnel and "almost certainly will remain closed all day" today, said Mauna Kea Support Services head Ron Koehler.

Road crews tried to clear the summit road yesterday, but drifts on the road up to 6 feet deep immediately built up again, Koehler said.

Even after drifting snow ceases and the road can be cleared, crews will have to wait for sunlight to melt ice under the snow, Koehler said.

Thick clouds will cover the summit for two to three nights, the Mauna Kea Weather Center site said. "Seeing (astronomical observations) will obviously be terrible through the next three nights," it said.

In Hilo, far below the observatories, the weather was almost ho-hum.

"There is nothing significant to report for this storm," said Big Island Civil Defense Director Troy Kindred.

Kindred's center did get several calls yesterday from residents who thought they were in trouble after listening to radio warnings of possible flooding. But when workers arrived at the callers' homes, they found no problems, Kindred said.

Conditions that produced the storm warnings were moving west out to sea late yesterday, National Weather Service meteorologist Roy Matsuda said.

Flood warnings were canceled throughout the state yesterday afternoon except for the Kau and South Kona districts on the Big Island, where warnings were to remain in place through the night.

Scattered showers remain possible across the state, and thundershowers were possible at the southern end of the Big Island, Matsuda said.

Significant flooding, warned about since Wednesday, failed to materialize.

Matsuda said the predictive models used by the weather service turned out to be accurate, but they do not provide fine detail.

He compared the situation to batting by San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds.

"When Barry Bonds steps up to the plate, you know he might hit the ball out of the park," Matsuda said, but you don't know if he'll do it on any particular swing of the bat or on any particular day.

While the outlook remained bleak for Mauna Kea, the picture was brighter at the summit of Haleakala on Maui, about 3,700 feet lower.

Daytime temperatures on Haleakala were about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, much too warm for snow and ice, said Maui Civil Defense plans and operations officer Allan DeLima. In the lowlands his office received "not a single report of any weather-related incident."

The Big Island recorded the most rain for the 24 hours ended at 5 p.m. yesterday, with 3.41 inches falling at Kapapala Ranch and 2.9 inches at Glenwood. Oahu sites recorded small amounts of rain, with the most -- 0.19 inches -- at Aloha Tower.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --