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.

Hawaii volcano

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.”

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