Does it snow in Hawaii?

Located in the central Pacific Ocean, in the oceanic region of Polynesia, the archipelago of Hawaii is considered a tropical paradise for lovers of nature, beaches, and sunny days.

This beautiful archipelago has been part of the territory of the United States since 1959, and since then, it has become one of the main tourist destinations for American surfers. This information is usually a kind of blanket cover letter about Hawaii.

However, this incredible archipelago is much more than that. Thus, if you want to know more about Hawaii (its different types of weather and even if it snows or not), this article might interest you.


    Snow in Hawaii? ❄

    Does it snow in Hawaii? The short answer is yes (or not, depending on the perspective used to analyze the question). However, it is important to highlight certain aspects of this issue.

    Let's start by stating the obvious: Hawaii is an island territory (specifically, an archipelago) and, therefore, is also an extracontinental territory to the United States.

    This archipelago is located in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the Contiguous United States (approximately 2,479 miles away from Los Angeles) and below the tropics (southern hemisphere).

    Based on these geographical conditions, it would be logical to think that Hawaii was a territory free of snowfall and full of hot days throughout the year. However, this is not entirely true.

    Snow in Mauna Kea (Hawaii)
    Snow in Mauna Kea (Hawaii). Flickr.

    In the Hawaiian archipelago, there are different factors such as height, pressure variations, winds, and topography, which, due to their combination, create different climatic zones within the 28,311 km² of Hawaii's surface.

    In fact, on the Big Island of Hawaii, there are two volcanoes: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, whose maximum altitude exceeds 13,000 feet above sea level.

    Occasionally (about six times a year), the summits of the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes are hit by snowfall during the winter season.

    Therefore, at least on the summits of these volcanoes, it is possible to enjoy snowfall in Hawaiian territory.

    The climate of Hawaii


    Contrary to what it might seem, Hawaii enjoys important ecological diversity. Hawaii's Big Island isn't just another southern island with a default subtropical climate. Nothing further from reality.

    According to the Köppen climate classification scheme, the Big Island of Hawaii has 4 of the world's five major climate zones (and, if we are talking about climate subzones, then Hawaii has 8 of the 13 existing subzones).


    Next, we explain in detail which are the prevailing climatic zones in Hawaii and where they can be found:

    Humid tropical climate

    • Maximum average temperature: >64 °F (17,7 °C).
    • Annual rainfall: >59.05 inches (149.9 cm).
    • Subzones of the humid tropical climate present in Hawaii:
      • Continuously wet: ≥2.36 inches (5,9 cm) of rain in the driest month.
      • Monsoon: moist soil throughout the year. Generally, the dry seasons are very short.
      • Dry: <2.36 inches (5,9 cm) of precipitation in the driest months.
    • Example of humid tropical climate in Hawaii: Hamakua Coast.

    Dry (arid and semi-arid) climate

    • Annual evaporation rate: >Annual precipitation.
    • Dry climate subzones present in Hawaii:
      • Dry arid (desert):
        • Annual evaporation rate: at least twice as high as the annual precipitation rate.
      • Dry semi-arid (steppe):
        • Annual precipitation rate: >an annual precipitation rate of the dry desert or arid climate.
    • Example of dry weather in Hawaii: Manini'owali Beach (Kua Bay).

    Temperate climate

    • Average temperature range (coldest month): 64 °F (17,7 °C).
    • Average temperature (warmest month): 90 °F (32,2 °C).
    • Subzones of the temperate climate present in Hawaii:
      • Dry summer:
        • Precipitation (characteristics): at least three times more rainfall in the wettest of winter than in the driest month of summer, which should not exceed 1.18 inches (2,9 cm) of precipitation.
      • Continuously wet:
        • Precipitation (characteristics): the driest month should exceed 1.18 inches (2,9 cm) of precipitation.
    • Example of temperate climate in Hawaii: Volcano Village.

    Polar climate

    • Average annual temperature: <50 °F (10 °C).
    • Polar climate subzones present in Hawaii:
      • Polar tundra:
        • Average temperature range (warmest month): 32-50 °F (0-10 °C).
        • Soils (characteristics): at depths higher than one hundred meters, the ground remains frozen at all times.
    • Example of polar climate in Hawaii: summits of the Volcanoes Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

    When does it snow in Hawaii? 🌨

    Given the geographical conditions of Hawaii, it is only possible to see snowfall on the summits of the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes between the months of December and April.

    These snowfalls are not continuous but rather occasional. Usually, the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are hit by snow about six times a year.

    Where does it snow in Hawaii? 🌨

    During the winter season, occasional snowfall can be seen on the summits of the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.

    Snow in Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (Hawaii)
    Snow in Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (Hawaii). Flickr.

    In fact, it is possible to see, with a naked eye, how the peaks of these volcanoes are covered by snow during the winter season. Both volcanoes are located on the Big Island of Hawaii and are part of the county of the same name.

    How much does it snow in Hawaii? 🌨

    Next, we expose a comparison chart of the average snow accumulation throughout a sliding 31-day period (centered on the day in question) in the five counties of Hawaii:

    Hawaii County (Mauna Loa Peak)00,980,311,2900000000,98
    Honolulu County000000000000
    Kalawao County000000000000
    Kauai County000000000000
    Maui County000000000000

    How much does it snow in Hawaii?

    The numbers shown in the table above represent inches. On the other hand, it is important to note that the average snow accumulation of the Mauna Kea volcano peak was not included. Therefore, keep in mind that the amount of snow accumulated on the Island of Hawaii is even greater.

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