Mauna Kea has a sub-Arctic climate, the weather service said.
A view from the snowy summit on Saturday courtesy the Canada France Hawaii Telescope. Heavy snow is often accompanied by wind, which create drifts that make it hard to accurately measure snowfall, Lyman said.
More snow is expected to fall on Hawaii mountaintops, with a winter storm warning in effect through Monday morning.
Much of the rest of Hawaii is being hit by heavy rainfall, with temperatures of around 20C (68F) - far warmer than on the higher ground.
Staff meteorologist Matthew Foster told USA Today: "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".
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The road to the summit of Mauna Kea is closed at the Visitor Information Station at the 9,200-foot level due to freezing fog, heavy snow and icy roadways. Meteorologist Matt Foster said that there are some winters where the high peaks receive very little or no snow, including in 2015.
Sunnier scenes at Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
The National Park Service said the deepening layer of snow starts at 10,000 feet.
He added: "Some years we might not get any, some years we might get more".
"A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow", the weather service said early Friday of the weather for the tropical paradise travelers often escape to in the winter.