Mele Kalikimaka: Hawaiian blizzard anticipated this holiday season

Most of Hawaii will see heavy rainfall, while higher elevation will see snow.
Most of Hawaii will see heavy rainfall, while higher elevation will see snow. Photo credit Getty Images

The Christmas season may not be green and bright on the tropical island this year, as an unexpected weather event – a snowstorm – is set to hit this weekend.

The big island could see up to a foot of snow or more in some areas, and wind gusts up to 100 miles per hour.

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The event is "not all that unusual," said Tom Birchard, a meteorologist with Hawaii’s National Weather Service branch in an interview with KCBS Radio on Friday. "A blizzard warning, these kinds of conditions, probably occur on average every two to three years or so," he said.

The island gets snow every year, even multiple times during the winter season.

A strong low in the atmosphere is going to get cut off just above the island, said Birchard, which will produce very strong winds.

At the same time, a front is going to be coming in with peak moisture. This combination will create the snowstorm forecasters are anticipating.

The lower elevated parts of the island will simply see heavy rainfall, while the higher elevated areas will see snow.

Hawaii was experiencing an unusually dry last couple of months, said Birchard, so this upcoming weather event is like "going from zero to 60."

A flash flood warning is currently in effect for Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai, according to the Hawaii NWS Twitter page.

The gloomy weather is likely to continue through this weekend into early next week. "Not what the visitor bureau would call the best weather for visitors and beachgoing," said Birchard.

But visitors on the island this weekend shouldn't despair too much. "You can still find the beauty even in the pouring rain here," he said.