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There's a blizzard warning in Hawaii

A beach along the Kona Kohala Coast, Hawaii.
George Rose | Getty Images
A beach along the Kona Kohala Coast, Hawaii.

It's snowing in paradise. A blizzard warning was issued Wednesday for Hawaii's high mountain summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

The National Weather Service said snowfall totals of 6 to 10 inches are possible, along with wind gusts up to 65 mph, which will reduce visibility to less than 1/4 of a mile. Thundersnow is also possible. Temperatures should be in the 30s.

"If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you," the weather service advised. The blizzard warning is in effect until Thursday morning.

The rest of the Big Island was under a flash flood watch, while both Oahu and Kauai were under flash flood warnings as heavy rain and thunderstorms pelted lower elevations.

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Though it was snowing at the tops of the Big Island summits, temperatures were mild throughout the rest of Hawaii, with high temperatures forecast in the 70s and 80s.

Snow on Hawaii's mountain peaks is not uncommon in the colder months because they are nearly 14,000 feet high. Mauna Kea has a sub-Arctic climate, the weather service said.

"As long as we have deep enough clouds to support ice crystals, and when you have cold enough temperatures at the summit level, you can get snowfall," said Matthew Foster, a staff meteorologist with the weather service in Honolulu.

Snow fell on both mountains on at least two occasions in December 2016. Mauna Loa and its sister peak of Mauna Kea are both volcanoes. Mauna Kea is the highest point in the state.

The only other area of Hawaii that gets snow with any regularity is the Haleakalā volcano on Maui, which at about 10,000 feet gets snow once every five years or so, he said.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Hawaii was 12 degrees on Mauna Kea on May 17, 1979, the weather service said.