METEOROLOGISTS predict more than twelve inches of snow on some parts of Hawaii, as the islands get ready for a blizzard warning that includes mentions of "thundersnow."
Weather patterns that moved across the islands Friday night are expected to stall out on Saturday and settle into place, bringing severe conditions that will last the weekend, especially over the islands' highest peaks.
What the National Weather Service (NWS) called a "stronger upper-level disturbance" will approach the region early Saturday, bringing an extended period of cold and wet weather that may last into the middle of next week.
Bands of heavy rainfall are expected across the weekend through at least Wednesday, with the potential of dumping more than one inch of rain each hour.
Experts say the expected rainfall carries a significant threat of flash flooding and even landslides – especially in hilly or mountainous areas.
The Big Island and Maui County are expected the see the heaviest rainfall, with significant showers also anticipated in Oahu and Kauai early next week.
Scattered thunderstorms are also expected to occur across the weekend, with some likely to turn severe with large hail and strong gusts of wind.
On Twitter, the National Weather Service detailed how frequent snow is on the islands.
"It is fairly common for the highest elevations (above 11,000ft) 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," the NWS explained.
"However, Haleakala on Maui (10,023ft) does observe snow about once every 2-3 years."
The Big Island summits will be under blizzard and high wind warnings over the weekend with winds gusting over 100 mph, and a possible foot of snow, forecasters said.
NWS issued both high wind and blizzard warnings for the Big Island summits from 6pm Friday until 6pm Sunday.
“Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility at times, with periods of zero visibility,” forecasters said.
They predict southwest winds from 50 to 80mph with localized gusts over 100mph.
“Winds this strong will make driving and walking extremely dangerous,” forecasters said, “The winds can cause significant damage or injuries.”
Though snow over the Big Island summits is common each year, blizzard warnings are considered quite rare.
According to NWS, over the last 10 years winter storm warnings have been issued by the NWS-Honolulu office an average of three times each year.
Blizzard warnings, however, have been issued just five times over that 10-year span.
Prior to this week's warning, the last occurred in March 2018.
Forecasters predict roads and several areas across the state may be closed on account of the inclement weather, including the Big Island’s Belt Highway, and Piilani Highway on Maui.
This may result in "long detours or even the isolation of communities," NWS said. "Landslides may also occur in areas with steep terrain.”
Forecasters say motorists should never cross a flooded roadway because the water may be deeper than expected and moving swiftly.
Prior to this weekend's expected storms, Hawaii was considered abnormally according to the United States Drought Monitor, which as of Wednesday was reporting that 29 percent of the Hawaiian Islands were in severe drought conditions or worse.
On the island of Oahu, Honolulu recorded just three percent of its average rainfall throughout the month of November and October. In fact, since July 1, the city has recorded just 10 percent of its average rainfall.
The Big Island has also been hit hard by this drought, recording less than 40 percent of its average rainfall.
Kailua fared even worse, reporting a measly 12 percent of its average rate.
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