Skip to content

Pair Of Kona Lows To Unload Feet Of Snow, Month’s Worth Of Rain Across Hawaii

Up until the middle of next week, the state will see waves of torrential downpours and potentially fatal risks from a storm system

AccuWeather meteorologists advise residents and visitors across the Hawaiian Islands to remain weather aware as a storm system known as a Kona low brings rounds of heavy precipitation and potentially life-threatening hazards to the state into the middle of next week.

Anyone heading to Hawaii for a winter break can run into issues with this stormy pattern, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Rain began in earnest across the islands late Thursday into Friday, local time, as a Kona low drifted to the west of the islands. Weather alerts remained in effect for every square inch of Hawaii as of early Friday morning, ranging in hazard type from flood watches to high surf advisories and winter storm warnings at the Big Island summits.

“When a Kona low sets up to the west and northwest of Hawaii, it disrupts the normal trade wind patterns. A more southerly wind flow pulls deep tropical moisture northward across the island chain,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.

This shift in the wind pattern results in the heaviest rain focusing on the leeward side of the islands, areas that do not typically receive significant amounts of rain. For example, Honolulu, which is located on the south shore of the island of Oahu, usually ends the month of February with a historical average rainfall of 2 inches.

“The city may pick up that much rain by Sunday from this Kona low,” Pydynowski said on Friday.

The strength of the Kona Low will be considerably slow, but there is still a heightened risk of landslides, flash flooding and road closures due to the fact that the heavy rain is falling over areas that do not typically receive such intense downpours in a short period of time. ACCUWEATHER

Pydynowski added that there will be a heightened risk of landslides, flash flooding and road closures due to the fact that the heavy rain is falling over areas that do not typically receive such intense downpours in a short period of time.

Precipitation will take the form of snow and ice as temperatures hover near or below freezing at the Big Island summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

By the end of the weekend, more than 2 feet of snow will be possible. Travel to the summits will become impossible during the height of the storm as a result of heavy snow and ice. Gusty winds can lead to blowing and drifting snow that significantly reduces visibility.

Experts advise only the most seasoned surfers to attempt to venture into the waters along Hawaii’s east-facing shores, where surf can build to 7-11 feet.

AccuWeather forecasters expect the heaviest precipitation to fall across Hawaii through the first half of the weekend. During Sunday and Monday, the Kona low will track farther away from the islands, allowing the plume of tropical moisture to shift to the south and west.

By the middle of the next week, a new Kona low is predicted to form, bringing another plume of tropical moisture to the islands. ACCUWEATHER

The reprieve from heavy rainfall is not expected to last long, according to AccuWeather meteorologists. A new Kona low is expected to develop by the middle of next week and send another plume of tropical moisture to the islands. The winter months are typically the most common time for Kona lows to affect Hawaii.

“The active pattern and threat for flooding may continue heading into next week as another Kona low may set up early next week and continue the potential for heavy, flooding rainfall across the Hawaiian Islands,” Pydynowski said.

The track of the Kona low will determine exactly where the plume of heaviest precipitation will set up and if it encompasses the entire island chain or only part of the state. There is the potential for several more inches of rain to fall on the leeward side of the islands. At the very least, residents and visitors throughout the region should be prepared for a wetter week than what is typical, resulting in a continued risk of flooding and disruptions to travel and outdoor plans.

Produced in association with AccuWeather.

Recommended from our partners