Conditions finally allow for a snow day

More rain, thunder forecast for Hawaii island, Maui County

A rainbow stretches across the sky at the summit of Haleakala National Park on Sunday. ASA ELLISON photo

For the second Presidents Day weekend in a row, Maui residents were treated to the rarity of snow.

After Haleakala National Park reopened Saturday, residents flocked to the summit with boogie boards and makeshift sleds, hoping to take advantage of the last of the melting snow. Haleakala had been shut down for nearly a week due to snowy and icy conditions on the roads.

“We sent the news release out, and it seemed like everybody was in line to come through the entrance gate,” park spokeswoman Nancy Stimson said Monday evening. “We had to pull people from other divisions to help with crowd control.”

At first, Pukalani resident Asa Ellison said he didn’t see anyone on the roads. He and his wife left their home at around 8 a.m. Sunday and didn’t see another car until they got to the visitors center right before the summit — and found the parking lot packed, likely with people who stayed after the sunrise.

“Weather-wise it was clear and blue skies, sunny, no wind,” Ellison said. “It was very nice.”

Kaua Reyes of Waihee bodyboards down a patch of snow at Haleakala National Park on Monday. The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo

Ellison said one of the first things they did was make a snowman. People were also sliding down the snow-covered Sliding Sands trail.

Ellison used to do sunrise tours and daytime hikes at the crater and said the snowfall this year was “way more than I’ve seen in past years.”

“Past years had just been a little icing on the top of the cake . . . but this year was really thick in ways that I haven’t seen before,” Ellison said.

“It was a real thrill for those of us that live on Maui and tropical islands to get up there and play in the snow for a little bit,” he added. “I’m going to give credit to the rangers over there for doing their best to keep it safe for everybody. They had a hard situation with everybody coming up there and wanting to go all over the place.”

On Monday, conditions were clear and sunny until rain and clouds set in later in the afternoon, Stimson said. She added there was likely “very little snow up there, if there’s any at all.”

Maui families flocked to the summit over the weekend to see the last of the snow after the park reopened on Saturday. The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo

Meanwhile, winter weather conditions continued on Maui as the National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for the county through 6 p.m. today. A band of deep moisture was expected to move over the eastern half of the state and stall through today, causing heavy rainfall and thunderstorms in Maui County.

The National Weather Service also extended a high-surf advisory for the east-facing shores of Molokai and Maui through 6 a.m. Thursday. A north-northeast swell is expected to peak Wednesday and gradually decline Thursday. Surf of 6 to 10 feet was expected late today along east-facing shores.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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