White Christmas in Hawaii? Yes, on the Big Island summits

White Christmas in Hawaii? Yes, on the Big Island summits
A dusting of snow on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, in this photo from Tuesday. Blizzard warning was canceled Christmas morning. (Hollyn Johnson / AP)

Although most of the nation missed out on a white Christmas this year, there were exceptions -- including Michigan, the Rockies and a bit of Hawaii.

You read that right: Hawaii.


The National Weather Service had issued a blizzard warning on Christmas Eve for Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island, where winds reached 82 mph.

But the summits got just a dusting of snow, and the warning was canceled Christmas morning when the winds died down, National Weather Service meteorologist Norman Hui said.

"Most people would not expect a Christmas blizzard in Hawaii," said University of Hawaii Professor Steven Businger, who runs the Mauna Kea Weather Center.

Roads to the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa remain closed, at least for the moment, Hui said, with winds of about 50 mph.

Hui said it isn't unusual to get snow or harsh winds on the mountaintops – Mauna Kea stands at 13,796 feet above sea level and Mauna Loa at 13,681 feet -- but the combination of the two is rather unusual.

The snow should be on the ground for another day or two, said Joe McDonough, manager at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station near the summit of Mauna Kea.

"There is just enough for making a few snowballs," McDonough said.

The astronomy visitor center does keep a snowplow, just in case, he said. But temperatures at the summits were beginning to rise above freezing Thursday morning.

Elsewhere, parts of central Michigan got between 1 and 2 inches of snow, and Montana got up to 14 inches.

Denver was expecting between 5 and 8 inches of snow Thursday evening and into Friday morning, the weather service said.

Weather forecasters and airport officials said the storm might cause delays at Denver International Airport, but won't have a major effect on national air travel.

The airport expects 1,600 flights and 163,000 passengers Friday, DIA spokeswoman Laura Coale said, but officials still don't expect serious travel disruptions.

National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Nutter said about 14 inches of snow fell just north of Bozeman, Mont., and most of the state got between 2 and 4 inches.

Along the Eastern Seaboard, it was another story. New York City had one of the warmest Christmases on record, with a high of 62 in Central Park.


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