The Kilauea Volcano began its first major eruption since 2014 on May 3, 2018. The lava is still flowing and is getting faster and hotter, which poses as an extreme threat to locals and visitors within the area.
This eruption has caused mass evacuations from the island of Hawaii, also known as “The Big Island.” Even with a code red issued and threats from Mayor Harry Kim saying that if residents do not evacuate they will be criminally charged, the Hawaiian government discourages tourists from canceling their summer trips.
According to Forbes, Governor David Ige made a statement that travelers should not cancel their plans because flights, accommodations and activities are all operating normally. In addition to this, the eruptions are taking place in more residential areas, so it is unlikely that many tourists will find themselves there. The only location that is closed (besides the evacuated neighborhoods and cities) is Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.
In the affected areas, lava isn’t the only danger faced by residents. People also had to evacuate because of volcanic ash, gas and glass particles known as Pele’s hair. These particles, especially the ash and the glass, can cause irritation of the eyes and skin. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) urged residents to minimize the amount of volcanic air they are exposed to.
“Hawaii’s air quality is being closely monitored on a continuing basis by scientists, meteorologists and the State Department of Health,” Ige said. “This team of experts says the air quality in the Hawaiian Islands is safe for residents and visitors, except in the affected areas.”
In one of the USGS’s daily updates on the volcano, they detail that the most vigorous flow of lava is coming from Fissure 8 and is expanding into the residential communities of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens at a rate of 80 yards per hour.
Despite all of the destruction the volcanic eruption has brought, National Public Radio (NPR) has reported that this eruption will help scientists learn more about volcanoes and increase knowledge of the world in general. Using technology such as drones, sensors, satellites and radar planes, research groups, such as the USGS, will be able to use all of the information they gather and keep people safe the next time a destructive eruption occurs.
“[The information we are gathering could] keep people’s lives from being impacted, like they have been during this eruption,” USGS volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.
With this fast flowing lava, the anxiety of the Hawaiian residents is rising. According to CBS News, John Hubbard, a resident of an evacuation zone, is accused of open firing on his neighbor who was trying to check up on his property. The tension may begin to run even higher in these zones because the evacuation routes are beginning to be covered in the lava flow. CBS also reports that workers are currently trying to dig a new route so that citizens can safely leave the dangerous areas.
Though 75 homes have been destroyed, some are trying to make light of the situation. On May 28, Twitter user Jay Furr asked the USGS if it was safe to roast marshmallows over the lava flow. The USGS did not recommend to do it because of the terrible taste and possible chemical reaction, due to the volcanic gases.
Even if roasting marshmallows over lava is discouraged, those who had plans to travel to Hawaii are encouraged to follow through with those plans as long as they are staying safe.
Photo courtesy of VietPressUSA