Blizzard gives Hawaii summits a White Christmas

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HONOLULU (AP) — Some people in Hawaii are dreaming of a White Christmas.

A blizzard warning remained in effect Wednesday for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. While snow on the mountains is common, a blizzard with significant accumulation is unusual.

Up to 8 inches of snow could accumulate above 11,500 feet, the National Weather Service said. "Usually it's just a dusting or up to an inch or two," said weather service Meteorologist Norman Hui. "Right now we have a pretty powerful winter storm."

Kimberly Zarate-Amaya can normally see the summit of Mauna Kea from her home in Mountain View, but Wednesday's dense fog made it difficult to get a glimpse of the snow-capped mountain.

She was hoping to be able to take her kids up to Mauna Kea to see the snow, but the road was closed Wednesday because of icy conditions.

"Honestly the fact it's coming at Christmas is what makes it exciting," she said. "How often we can say in Hawaii we have a White Christmas?"

The earliest the public can go up will likely be Friday, as road-clearing crews won't be working on Christmas, said Ryan Lyman, forecast meteorologist for the Mauna Kea Weather Center. But people living on the Hilo side of the island will at least get a glimpse of a white mountain because the snow will be around for a few days before melting, he said.

The last time there was a White Christmas was in 2008, he said.

If Zarate-Amaya and her family can't get to the snow, they'll instead head to the town of Pahoa to get a glimpse of lava flowing from Kilauea volcano. Hawaii County Civil Defense said the lava remained stalled Wednesday about 700 yards from a shopping center. The leading edged hadn't advanced since Monday, giving the community hope the lava would wait until after Christmas before oozing into Pahoa Marketplace.

"The lava stalled and then the snow fell," Zarate-Amaya said. "Nowhere else in the world they can say that."


Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at .

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