Hawaii volcano eruption has alarmed some and attracted onlookers
Hawaii volcano: The first eruption of the world’s largest active volcano in 38 years is drawing spectators to a national park for “spectacular” views of the event, and it is also reviving traumatic memories for some Hawaii residents who have endured terrifying volcanic experiences in the past.
Nicole Skilling had to leave her home near a town where more than 700 homes were destroyed by lava only four years ago. She moved to the South Kona area, but this week, after Mauna Loa erupted late Sunday night, she had to pack her car with food and supplies.
Scientists later told the public that the eruption moved to a rift zone on Mauna Loa’s northeast flank and was no longer a threat to any communities. At first, officials were worried that lava flowing down the side of the volcano would head toward South Kona. Still, the uncertainty is somewhat unnerving.
Skilling said Monday, “It just happened last night, so I haven’t had much time to worry about it yet.” “Thank goodness, it’s at the northeast rift zone right now. But if it breaks on the west side, it will hit a heavily populated area. I have a little bit of PTSD because of this.”
Officials opened shelters in the Kona and Kau areas because some people left their homes even though there were no orders to do so. Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said that no one stayed there overnight and that they would close on Tuesday.
Even so, some people in the area were getting ready for changes that couldn’t be predicted. Kamakani Rivera-Kekololio, who lives in the Hookena neighbourhood of south Kona, kept food and blankets in his car. “We’re being makaukau for anything,” Rivera-Kekololio said, using the Hawaiian word for “ready.”
Ken Hon, the scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said on Tuesday that the lava was moving “not super fast” at less than 1 mph, though the exact speed wasn’t known yet. About 6 miles (10 km) from Saddle Road, which connects the east and west sides of the island, it was going downhill. When the flow hit flatter ground, about 4 miles (6.4 kilometres) from the road, it was likely to slow down.
No one knew if or when the lava would reach the road. Hon says that it could hit flatter ground on Tuesday or Wednesday. “We’re not even sure it will reach the highway, but if it keeps going in this direction, that’s the next step,” he said, adding that a crack could also open and drain some of the water that’s feeding the flow.
On Tuesday, the smell of sulphur and volcanic gases was strong along Saddle Road, where people were watching a wide stream of lava move toward them. As the clouds moved away, a large plume of gas and ash rose above the flow from an open summit vent. Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation.
“We’re thankful the lava flow is not affecting residential areas at this time, allowing schools and businesses to remain open,” he said in a statement. “I’m issuing this Emergency Proclamation now to allow responders to respond quickly or limit access, if necessary, as the eruption continues.”
Hon said that lava crossed the road to the Mauna Loa Observatory Monday night and turned off the power to the building. He also said that it could move toward Hilo, the county seat, but that could take a week or more. In the meantime, scientists are trying to figure out how much gas is coming out of the volcano. “This eruption is just in its early stages right now,” Hon said.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is open 24 hours a day, is getting more people because of the eruption. “The views have been spectacular,” park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said. “This is especially true before sunrise and at night.” Visitors can see two kinds of eruptions right now: the glow from Kilauea’s lava lake and the lava coming out of a fissure on Mauna Loa.
“It’s rare that we have two eruptions going on at the same time,” Ferracane said. People in the part of Hilo’s north that is closest to where Mauna Loa erupted on Tuesday were careful but not too scared. Lindsay Cloyd, who is 33 years old, says it makes her a little nervous, but she also feels safe and is amazed by the power of nature in her backyard. She is from Utah and has only lived in Hawaii for a few years. She has never been in Hawaii when an eruption happened. “I feel so humbled and small,” she said. “To be here while that’s happening is a profound and amazing experience.”
Thomas Schneider, who is 38 years old and works as an optical engineer at the Gemini Observatory on Mauna Kea, just finished building his new home down the street. Even though he had lived in Hilo for over a decade and knew the risks, lava never came up when he was buying the property.
He said, “If you looked around my property, you’d see lava rock formations sticking out.” “We live on an active volcano, so it feels like lava is everywhere.” The last eruption of Mauna Loa was close to his neighbourhood, but it didn’t reach it. He said that he is not scared. “I’ve been waiting since I moved here to see Mauna Loa go off, it’s supposed to be spectacular,” he said. “It’s kind of exciting that it’s finally erupting.”
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