Hawaii Makes It 49 States With Snow on the Ground
Florida is the lone exception.
National Weather Service forecasters expect 12 to 18 inches of snow to fall on the summits (above 11,000 feet) of the Big Island through Thursday, and the snow will be accompanied by 50-mph winds and near-whiteout conditions.
In other words, aloha blizzard.
(Current snow cover map; image courtesy of National Operation Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center)
Snow on the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, which extend 13,500-plus feet into the atmosphere, is not rare, with some snow having fallen just a few days ago. Snow does not occur every winter, however, and when it comes, snow often arrives with a fury since it combines with the naturally higher winds of the high elevations to produce intense, wind-whipped snowstorms that would rival the worst the mainland has to offer.
This storm system is particularly strong, with snow expected in elevations as low as 8,000 feet, and the possibility that the snow will be accompanied by thunder and lightning and extremely low visibility. In the lower elevations, widespread showers and thunderstorms will produce heavy rain, with flash flood watches in effect for all of the islands.
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Rainfall has been common so far this winter in Hawaii, enough to produce bouts of flash flooding and greatly reduce what had been a two-year drought for much of the state. Conditions had become exceptional, the worst category, on the western side of the Big Island last summer.
As far as snow and ice coverage in the Deep South, this is the second consecutive winter with widespread winter snow and ice. With little snow removal equipment and supplies, along with automobiles not as prepared for travel on slippery roads as those from northern climates, even small amounts of snow and ice can cause serious travel problems and disruptions to daily lives.
And there was nothing small about the most recent storm.
Widespread snow amounts of greater than 6 inches hit southern Arkansas, southern Tennessee, northern Mississippi, northern Alabama and northern Georgia, with local amounts approaching a foot. In addition, there was a significant accumulation of freezing rain and sleet as far south as southern Alabama and southern Georgia.