A powerful winter storm has unleashed huge waves, snow and massive waves in what the National Weather Service office in Honolulu, Hawaii has descri
A powerful winter storm has unleashed huge waves, snow and massive waves in what the National Weather Service office in Honolulu, Hawaii has described as a “historic storm”. The extreme weather system caused wind gusts of up to 191mph on Hawaii’s Big Island on Sunday. The winds are equivalent to a Category 4 major hurricane.
Sam Lemmo, administrator of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said forecasters “are calling this an unprecedented event and we concur that we rarely if ever have seen the combination of record high onshore waves, coupled with gale force winds.”
The dangerous wind gusts were recorded on the Big Island’s towering peak of the dormant volcano of Mauna Kea at 4.40pm local time on Sunday.
Jon Jelsema, senior forecaster at the Weather Service office in Honolulu said: “That’s the strongest wind gust I’ve ever seen up there.
“We tend to get a gust maybe to 150 mph once a winter or so, but never 191 mph.”
According to the office, the visitor station on the more than 13,000-foot mountain is closed until Tuesday “due to the predicted continuation of severe weather.”
The bizarre weather also saw snowfall on the normally sunny Hawaii.
Several inches of snow fell on Haleakalā, a shield volcano in East Maui.
Mr Jelsema described the wintry weather as “very unusual.”
Snow is common on the high peaks of the Big Island in places such as Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
But according to the DLNR the storm even brought snow to Maui’s Polipoli State Park at an elevation of 6,200 feet.
On the department’s Facebook page on Sunday it said: “Perhaps the first time ever, snow has fallen in a Hawai‘i State Park.
“Polipoli State Park on Maui is blanketed with snow. It could also be the lowest elevation snow ever recorded in the state.”
The National Weather Service also issued a high surf warning on Thursday in anticipation of the event.
It warned of “giant disorganised waves” that “could cause unprecedented coastal flooding Saturday night through Sunday.”
Mr Jelsema said: “The sea state kind of looks like the water in a washing machine.
“You have a mix of swell — which is generated in many different areas of the Pacific — combining with wind waves.
“One wave follows the next at pretty big intervals.”
The powerful gusts also led to power outages for 2,400 customers across Hawaii on Monday, down from a peak of 27,000 over the weekend.
The harsh conditions are now moving away from the Hawaiian islands, as wind warnings were cancelled at 6pm local time on Monday.