While New York City and Boston are typically associated with snowy winters, Hawaii snow has surprisingly outpaced them in snowfall this winter.
The Mauna Kea Weather Center on Hawaii Island experienced a significant snowstorm in late November. That resulted in approximately half a foot of snow. This event occurred on the peaks of the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.
In contrast, Boston reported only a fraction of its average snowfall, receiving a mere 0.2 inches on December 6. New York City, often pictured with winter snowscapes, has yet to see its first snowfall of the season.
Social media buzzed with images of Hawaii’s snow-covered volcanic peaks. This surprised many who associate the Aloha State solely with sun and surf. However, snow on Hawaii’s higher altitudes is not as rare as one might think.
Hawaii’s High-Altitude Snow
Hawaii’s volcanic peaks, particularly the nearly 14,000-foot-tall Mauna Kea volcano, are known for their altitude and even receive snow occasionally in the summer. Mauna Kea is recognized as the world’s tallest mountain when measured from base to peak, extending about 20,000 feet below sea level. This significant elevation means that these mountains can experience winter conditions distinct from the tropical climate below.
Skiers sometimes venture to these Hawaiian peaks for a unique skiing experience, despite the absence of traditional ski resorts in the state. Blizzard warnings are not unheard of in these areas during the winter months.
On the East Coast, cities like Boston and New York City are experiencing an unusually mild winter. Boston’s most significant snow event in January produced only 3.5 inches, while New York City’s largest was a modest 1.8 inches in February. Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, highlighted that this level of snowfall is atypical for these cities. Boston’s average snowfall for November is 0.7 inches, escalating to 9 inches in December. New York City usually sees about half an inch in November and close to 5 inches in December.
El Niño’s Potential Impact
The weather pattern known as El Niño, characterized by warmer ocean waters in the Pacific, might change the East Coast’s winter outlook. Following the end of La Niña in March, El Niño began this summer.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted that El Niño could lead to near-normal or slightly above-normal precipitation for the East Coast.
This means there’s still a chance for cities like New York and Boston to catch up and experience their share of winter wonderland scenes. El Niño’s influence could bring more wet weather to these areas, potentially increasing their snowfall totals as the winter progresses.