John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Palm trees, black sand, snow, ice, freezing fog—wait, what?
Ah, Hawaii—the sound of waves lapping at the shore, the taste of fresh poke and pineapple, the sensation of freezing fog turning your face into a rigid mask... Hold on, what's happening now?
Residents of the Big Island can experience a bit of the Northeast's recent misery by venturing to the high altitudes, where a pair of blizzard warnings are in effect. Snow, ice, freezing fog, gusts above 85 mph, and piss-poor visibility are all on the table above 11,000 feet, says the National Weather Service. The agency adds:
THIS WILL LEAD TO WHITEOUT CONDITIONS...MAKING TRAVEL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. DO NOT TRAVEL. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL...HAVE A WINTER SURVIVAL KIT WITH YOU.
Hawaii's no stranger to snow. Three of its cloud-kissing volcanoes (Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Haleakala) typically get dusted in the winter. This storm promises to deliver a more substantial wallop, though. Mauna Loa gets about four inches of snow in the average year (the highest amount arriving in April, oddly enough). The ongoing blizzard could drop up to eight inches of ice and powder, and already has things looking like the North Pole judging from this webcam shot at Mauna Kea:
Hawaiians have taken this week's snow in stride, journeying to the frosty peaks for photo-ops and fashioning snowmen that, frankly, put the South's snow creatures to shame. Here's what winter in paradise looks like: