Maui News

Burst in Volcanic Emissions Prompts Special Weather Statement

May 14, 2018, 11:08 AM HST
* Updated May 14, 12:50 PM
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Live Panorama of Kīlauea Caldera from HVO Observation Tower [KIcam] Last Updated 2018-05-14 11 a.m. (HST). This image is from a research camera mounted in the observation tower at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The camera is looking SSE towards the active vent in Halemaʻumaʻu, 1.9 km (1.2 miles) from the webcam. For scale, Halemaʻumaʻu is approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) across and about 85 m (~280 ft) deep. PC: US Geological Survey.

The National Weather Service issued a Special Weather Statement this morning saying very light ashfall is expected through at least 6 p.m. on Monday, May 14, 2018 following a burst in volcanic emissions at around 9 o’clock this morning.

The burst at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater on the Kīlauea Volcano summit was observed on both visible satellite and web cameras.

Satellite imagery shows northeast winds carrying volcanic ash downstream across the Big Island Kaʻū District and was observed on the Punaluʻu area shortly after the burst.

Volcanic ashfall will be possible through the rest of the day across the Kaʻū District of Hawaiʻi Island.

The public in the area is advised to avoid excessive exposure to ash which is an eye and respiratory irritant. Those with respiratory sensitivities should take extra precaution to minimize exposure.

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The Hawaii State Department of Health reports that the current eruption activity is producing dangerous Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) gas and other emissions that are hazardous; especially for elderly, young children and babies and people with respiratory problems. People who are downwind or close to the vents and lava flows are also at high risk. Be aware of the unpredictable nature of dangerous levels of SO2  gas because it can be carried far from the fissures with wind speed and direction.

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Due to the presence of SO2  hazards in lower Puna, the following are issued:

Leaving the area of volcanic activity or sheltering in place is the best way to protect yourself and your family. Only specialized masks available for purchase will protect from the dangerous gases and particulate matter that are being released in the current volcanic activity.

Take precautions. When levels of vog are elevated:

  • Avoid outdoor activities that cause heavy breathing,
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration,
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke,
  • Stay indoors and close windows and doors prior to gas inundation,
  • If an air conditioner is used, set it to recirculate,
  • Always keep medications on hand and readily available,
  • Daily prescribed medications, should be taken on schedule and may provide relief from the effects of sulfur dioxide, and
  • Contact a doctor as soon as possible if any health problems develop.
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Monitor vog levels and forecasts: People on Hawaii Island outside the area of volcanic activity are also advised to monitor levels of vog at www.ivhn.org/vog.

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