Hawaii: Sand, surf and snow

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HAWAII (CNN) – Hawaiians more used to dusting sand than ice from their feet have been warned that a winter storm may bring heavy snow to Big Island peaks overnight.

Up to six inches of snow is expected to fall, the National Weather Service says, with a winter storm warning in place until 6 a.m. local time Monday (11 a.m. ET).

The NWS is forecasting heavy snow, blowing and drifting snow, strong winds gusting up to 55 mph and low visibility for the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

The conditions will make driving and hiking very dangerous, the NWS warned, with the combination of strong winds and heavy snow making travel potentially “very hazardous or impossible.”

CNN meteorologist Michael Guy says it isn’t unusual for the Big Island summits to experience snowfall in the winter months.

“It usually can snow at elevations above 9,000 feet and some of the summits reach above 13,000 feet.

“There have actually been blizzard warnings for those areas that get snow at those elevations before,” Guy says.

The variation in the island’s elevation allows for colder temperatures at higher altitudes — which can support winter weather precipitation, he says.

Snow also fell on the summits late last week, with photos showing the summit of Mauna Kea cloaked in white Thursday.

Further snow showers are predicted from Wednesday.

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