The Blizzard Continues

The storm continues unabated atop Mauna Kea. Word from the snowplow crews is bad, deep drifts cover the road above the switchbacks. They are stating that it is unlikely our summit crew will be able to access the telescopes today. That will make the second day in a row with no access.

MastCam is still functioning, only half the dome is covered with ice. I have turned the heater on in an attempt to clear what I can. The view it reveals is deeper snow and a lot more ice. The railings on the dome ladders have coatings many inches thick.

Mauna Kea Blizzard
The blizzard continues atop Mauna Kea March 12, 2015

Why is the Summit Road Closed?

Folks sometimes get a little perturbed when MKSS closes the Mauna Kea summit road. Everyone wants to go up and see the snow. Yes, the road is closed right now, for good reason, there really is no accessible road on the summit at the moment. Not taking my word for it? See for yourself…

Snow Drift
A MastCam image of the snowdrifts covering the road between Keck and IRTF

Mauna Kea Blizzard

The storm is raging at the summit. The wind is howling and freezing fog is coating everything with ice. The webcam images are mostly blocked as ice covers the camera windows, but I can still see out of one side of MastCam towards the Keck 2 dome.

Just received word that our day crew will not attempt the summit, they are leaving HP and headed home. The rangers report snow drifts on the road at fairly low elevations and the snow plow crews will not attempt to clear the roads until the storm abates. Looks like we will lose cooling on some of the instruments as the liquid nitrogen runs out.

Freezing Fog
Freezing fog forms ice on the weather mast on March 9th, 2015

Blizzard Watch? In Hawaii?

National Weather Service watch map for 22Dec2014.
Yes, it can happen… The local NWS office has issued a blizzard watch for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

It will be interesting to see just how much snow we do get. The Mauna Kea Weather Center is predicting a possible six inches. I do not plan on being on the summit until Friday. A white Christmas?