Does It Snow In Hawaii? Hang Loose or Bundle Up?

Hawaii is a tropical state, so it is a general conception that it does not snow there. The highest temperature that has ever been recorded in Hawaii was 93 degrees Fahrenheit, which was recorded in Kula, Maui.

So, does it snow in Hawaii? Snow is a form of precipitation that falls from the atmosphere when the temperature is below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit). 

The tropical climate of Hawaii (with average temperatures ranging from 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit) is much too warm for snow to form. 

However, you might be surprised to learn that it actually *can* snow on some of the Hawaiian islands!

Does it Snow in Hawaii?
Kauai, Hawaii, USA

Does it Snow in Hawaii?

Well, this question has a mixed answer, of yes and no. While it does snow in Hawaii, it only happens in higher elevation areas, such as mountains.

The highest peak on the Island of Maui is Haleakala, which stands at 10,023 feet above sea level. 

Because Haleakala is so high up, the temperature at the summit is often below freezing – sometimes as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit! So while it’s technically possible for it to snow on Maui, it’s extremely rare and normally only happens once every few years.

The same can be said for the Big Island of Hawaii, where Mauna Kea – another one of Hawaii’s tallest mountains – stands at 13,796 feet above sea level. 

As with Haleakala on Maui, the summit of Mauna Kea is typically below freezing and sometimes sees snowfall. 

However, because both mountains are so tall and their summits are usually covered in clouds, most people never get to see the snow!

How Often Does it Snow in Hawaii?

Observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii | Does it Snow in Hawaii, USA?
Observatories on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Although most people associate snow with cold weather, it can actually snow in Hawaii. 

However, it only snows at the higher altitudes on the Big Island and Maui. Snow is so rare in Hawaii that the National Weather Service has a Snowfall Probability Forecast to help predict when and where it might snow.

The likeliest time for snow in Hawaii is from December to February, although it can snow at any time of year. 

The most recent significant snowfall in Hawaii was in December 2016, when several inches of snow blanketed the summits of Haleakalā on Maui and Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island.

When Does it Snow in Hawaii?

From late November to early April, heavy snowfalls blanket the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii. The rest of the state sees only sporadic flurries or none at all.

The Climate in Hawaii

The climate in Hawaii is tropical, but it can vary depending on the location and elevation. The island of Kauai is the wettest, with an average rainfall of more than 100 inches per year. 

The island of Maui is drier, with an average rainfall of only around 50 inches per year. The Big Island of Hawaii is the driest place in the state, with an average rainfall of only around 20 inches per year.

As for snow, it does not snow in Hawaii at any time of year. The highest peak in Hawaii, Mauna Kea, does have snow on its summit during the winter months, but this is only visible from a distance, and it does not stick around for long.

The Seasons in Hawaii

Based on location, Hawaii has two distinct climate zones. The smaller Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have a tropical climate, while the rest of the state experiences a more temperate climate. 

The majority of the Hawaiian Islands experience only two seasons: summer (Kau) from May to October and winter (Hooilo) from November to April.

The average temperature in Hawaii is about 85°F (29°C), with little seasonal temperature variation. 

However, there is a noticeable difference in temperature between the windward (northeast) side of an island, which is cooler and wetter due to trade winds, and the leeward (southwest) side, which is warmer and drier.

Temperatures at the summit of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island can drop below freezing during winter nights, and snowfall is not uncommon on these taller mountains. 

At lower elevations, including sea level areas like Waikiki Beach on Oahu, it very rarely snows.

Things to Do in Hawaii in Winter

Haleakala Volcano in Maui, Hawaii | Does it Snow in Hawaii?
Haleakalā Volcano in Maui, Hawaii

When most people think of Hawaii, they picture sunny beaches and palm trees. But did you know that it actually snows in Hawaii? 

That’s right – the state gets an average of 20 inches of snowfall each year, most of which falls on the dormant volcano Mauna Kea. 

So if you’re looking for things to do in Hawaii during winter, here are a few ideas:

  1. Go skiing or snowboarding on Mauna Kea
  2. Visit the Snow Palace in Hilo
  3. Attend the Kona Coffee Festival
  4. Take a drive through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  5. Visit the Big Island
  6. Go whale watching
  7. Check out the volcano
  8. Take a helicopter tour
  9. Visit Maui
  10. Go ziplining
  11. Learn to surf

Conclusion: Does it Snow in Hawaii?

In conclusion, while it technically does snow in Hawaii, it is an exceedingly rare event that only happens under very specific circumstances in high altitude areas of the state

For most people visiting Hawaii, the chances of seeing snow are essentially zero. So pack your sunscreen and swimsuit, and don’t worry about bringing your ski gear!

FAQs: About Snow in Hawaii

1. Where Does it Snow in Hawaii?

The Big Island of Hawaii is the only place in the state where it snows regularly. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the two highest volcanoes on the island, are often topped with snow during the winter months.

2. How Often Does it Snow in Hawaii?

While snow is not a daily occurrence on the Big Island, it does occasionally happen at high elevations. The amount of snowfall varies from year to year but usually totals around from 10 inches (25 cm) to two feet.

3. Is Snow Common in Hawaii?

No, snow is not common in Hawaii. In fact, it is so rare that many locals have never seen it! However, visitors from colder climates may be surprised to find that snow is actually not all that unusual on the Big Island.

4. Why Does it Sometimes Snow in Hawaii?

Snow in Hawaii is caused by a combination of factors, including high elevation, low temperatures, and moisture in the air. When these conditions come together, they can create perfect conditions for snowfall.