Hawaii Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara said he anticipates potentially having to evacuate about 1,000 people from more areas around the Kilauea volcano. (May 17)
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, blasting a plume of ash and debris 30,000 feet into the air and putting Big Island residents on further notice that a bigger blast could still be percolating in the volatile crater.
The state Civil Defense agency said the plume was expected to spread to the east, warning residents there to shelter in place. Driving conditions may be dangerous due to low visibility, the agency warned.
“At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent,” the U.S. Geological Survey said on its Kilauea status page.
The blast came at about 4:15 a.m. local time, USGS said, and few Big Island residents were out and about.
“Not your average wake-up call at the Kīlauea Volcano summit,” USGS noted.
Mike Poland, a USGS geophysicist, told the Associated Press the explosion likely only lasted a few minutes. He said ash accumulations are minimal, with only trace amounts near the volcano and on the nearby town of Volcano.
Still, ash will affect local waters for several hours, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency warned. The National Weather Service issued an Ashfall Advisory for the area until noon local time.
An Ashfall Advisory means that ash accumulation of less than one quarter inch is expected on boats. It is recommended that vessels be prepared to take appropriate counter measures before putting to sea or entering the advisory area.
Two weeks after a series of cracks began opening beneath the area, the lava from Kilauea is showing no sign of stopping. Wednesday afternoon, open pits or “vents” of lava roared and threw cinder-like ash into the surrounding jungle, igniting smoldering forest fires.
The lava seeping from Kilauea has forced the evacuation of nearly 2,000 people. More than two dozen homes have been destroyed in the rural Leilani Estates neighborhood area about 35 miles from Hilo, the island’s largest city.
The volcano is in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11.
Contributing: Trevor Hughes; The Associated Press