Wednesday | December 13, 2017
About Us | Contact | Subscribe

Maunakea summit road closed due to high winds

High winds have forced the closure of the Maunakea summit access road above the Maunakea Visitor Information Station at the 9,200-foot level.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu issued a high wind warning for the summits of Maunakea and Maunaloa late this morning. The warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday.

Westerly winds are forecast between 50 and 65 miles an hour with gusts over 80 mile an hour at the summits.

“These winds can make hiking or travel to the summits very dangerous,” NWS meteorologist Robert Ballard wrote in the warning. “… Travel to summit areas should be delayed until winds subside.”

According to Ballard, the cause of the high winds are “a strong low-pressure area … approaching the state from the north.”

Ballard said the low-pressure system won’t have a significant effect on Hawaii weather other than the summit high winds but is expected to affect surf on north-facing shores, including northeast facing beaches such as Honolii Beach Park in Hilo.

“The (higher surf) should get to you Sunday morning and remain through Sunday,” Ballard told the Tribune-Herald by phone this afternoon. “It’s still a little far out, but as a guess, it could be 15 to 20 feet for due north exposures. Not everybody’s going to see that, but those spots with a due north swell could see it.”

At 2:55 p.m. today, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and Gemini Observatory were reporting southwesterly winds with sustained speeds of 61 mph with gusts of 71 mph. The summit was dry, according to the Mauna Kea Weather Center website which reported winds at 60 mph from the southwest.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

Rules for posting comments