As Winter Weather Sets In, Big Island Mayor Voices Concern About Mauna Kea Protesters

Dec 6, 2019

Updated: Dec. 6, 9:19 a.m.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says he’s concerned about the safety of protesters at Mauna Kea after the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Big Island summits. The notice is posted until at least 6 p.m. Friday afternoon. 

 

There’s a wind advisory in effect for the Big Island summits, also until 6 p.m.

Kim said high winds took out “about 60 tents” a couple of weeks ago.

He says he recently met with representatives of those still on the mountain. He told HPR that they've agreed to follow his guidance when it comes to a possible evacuation.

"And so you have to make emergency plans to immediately evacuate if need be. If I give you advance notice to evacuate, you must know the seriousness of blizzard winds, of hail. I'm pleased to say they all agreed. If you call to say there's a danger to life, they will evacuate," Kim said.

Kim says he will do what he can to keep everyone safe, but adds that there are "limitations" on what can be done by the weather service and county emergency workers.

The protest against construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope is approaching its fifth month.

Authorities have been unable to clear the access road to the summit building site and sponsors of the telescope say while Mauna Kea remains their first location choice, they have also received permits to build it in the Canary Islands.