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Contact: Jessica Ferracane, 808-985-5018Due to high winds and heavy snow, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park closed the summit of Mauna Loa on Thursday to all day use and overnight camping until it is safe to reopen.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park early Thursday morning. Heavy rain, high winds, and a foot of snow were expected, and by afternoon, a thick blanket of snow was visible as low as 10,000 feet. Visitors at the park’s Jaggar Museum were treated periodically with views of snow-capped Mauna Loa, a novelty for many who don’t expect snow in Hawai‘i.
The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.
In January 2014, park rangers and a helicopter pilot rescued a backcountry hiker stranded on Mauna Loa in an unexpected blizzard.