Volcano ash plume rises to 12000 feet in Hawaii

Hugh Fox
May 16, 2018

Big Island hotel bookings for summer months are off nearly 50% from past year as daily news images of lava flows and burning homes scare off visitors to the island of 200,000 people, Rob Birch executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitor Bureau told journalists on a conference call.

While the newest eruptions are not threatening any homes or roads, they are creating loud booms and a fear of an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater.

The USGS has warned the volcano may become "more explosive".

The USGS has raised the volcano alert level at Hawaii's Kilauea to RED/WARNING - the highest level - indicating a "major volcanic eruption is imminent, underway, or suspected with hazardous activity both on the ground and in the air". The ash cloud is drifting generally west and southwest from the Kilauea summit and ashfall is occurring in the Kau Desert.

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A flow from fissure 17 that opened up after the volcano in Hawaii. Ash-fall has been reported in Pahala, about 18 miles downwind. "It seems that the system up at the summit has been what we call somewhat open, relieving that pressure", said Michelle Coombs, a geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, in a press briefing.

Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed since Friday, due to several possible threats including a possible steam explosion at Kilauea.

Radar indicated the ash cloud reached up to 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level. "Communities downslope of these fissures could be at risk from lava inundation".

The Hawaii National Guard has warned people in the coastal Lower Puna area to prepare to leave, saying anyone who chooses to stay behind can not count on being rescued.

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Lava flowing from giant rips in the earth on the flank of Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano threatened highways on Monday, raising the possibility officials may order thousands more people to evacuate before escape routes are cut off. The danger could be bigger than just lava.

Fountains of magma spouted "lava bombs" more than 100 feet into the air as the molten rock traveled east-southeast towards the coastal road, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

People who do have private insurance coverage may not have paid the high price to obtain protection from lava damage. And a list of frequently asked questions from the Hawaii Insurance Division supports that idea, saying that lava damage may be covered "as a fire peril".

Residents near Hawaii's Kilauea volcano faced warnings on Monday that more lava-spewing fissures could open near their homes and that the volcano's summit may be getting ready for an explosion that could scatter ash and debris for miles.

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