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Although There is No Immediate Threat to Populations from the Mauna Loa Eruption, Authorities Urge Attention
Late Sunday, the long-awaited Mauna Loa eruption began, delaying flights and requiring an all-hands emergency response as fissures at the volcano’s top threw forth lava fountains as high as 200 feet. The good news is that villages downslope are not now in immediate danger from the lava.
Although some individuals voluntarily left their houses, no evacuation orders have been issued, and all schools are still open. Visitors are also being advised by officials that they do not have to change their trip plans to Hawaii Island.
Instead, emergency management authorities are urging people to exercise caution. As the eruption goes on, there could also be an increased risk from glass fragments, Vog, and Pele’s hair. Gov. David Ige stated at a news conference that no communities on the slopes were in danger from lava flows.
Mayor of Hawaii Island Mitch Roth continued, “At this point, nobody is in danger. No one is being evacuated by us. The eruption has moved to the northeast rift zone, according to Ken Hon, chief scientist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, who made the announcement on Monday afternoon.
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For the towns that are closer to the peak, such as Pahala, Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, and Keauhou, this is a very favorable development. Within hours, lava flows in the southwest rift region might reach populated areas.
Contrarily, lava flows from the summit would take weeks to months to reach populated regions in the northeast rift zone. In addition, lava from Mauna Loa’s most recent eruption in 1984 spilled into the northeast rift zone and reached Hilo within four miles. Authorities emphasize that although this eruption may last two weeks, anything might happen.
However, as of Monday night, just one of Mauna Loa’s three fissures is active, according to officials. Here is a summary of the most recent eruption to date: In the volcano’s summit caldera, Mokuaweoweo, the eruption started around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday. Although it has moved to a rift zone on the northeast side, the lava has mainly been limited inside the caldera.
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Only the lowest of the summit’s three fissures was still pouring lava as of 1:30 p.m. on Monday. Saddle Road is roughly 10 miles from the lava, which is still located above the elevation of 10,000 feet. The upper fissures won’t likely resurface, according to officials.
As a precaution, Hawaii County has opened two shelters in Pahala and Kailua-Kona. About 100 people had voluntarily chosen to depart and go to the Kona shelter as of 9 a.m. on Monday. There was an ashfall warning for Hawaii Island, however, it has already been lifted.
Flight delays were a result of the eruption. Most flights into and out of Hilo were canceled by Southwest on Monday, but they expected full operations to resume Tuesday. No flights have been canceled by Hawaiian Airlines.
Hawaii Island does not have any closed schools, but DOE officials said they are keeping an eye on the issue. After several months of increased earthquake activity at Mauna Loa, the eruption occurs. U.S. Geological Survey webcams at the summit caught lava fountains erupting from a lengthy fissure on Sunday night as they were moving across the caldera floor.
According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, field personnel has been sent out to acquire firsthand information and produce fresh lava flow maps. The USGS emphasized that lava flow advances can vary quickly during the “extremely dynamic” early stages of Mauna Loa eruptions. But a meteorological station was the only thing that the lava directly threatened.
Hon advised downslope community residents to have a plan in place in case they need to evacuate. They need to gather their crucial documents and let their loved ones know where they will go if they have to depart.
Although neighborhoods on downslopes are not now in danger, authorities are advising citizens to exercise caution. Ikaika Marzo, a community organizer who was crucial to the reaction to the 2018 Kilauea eruption, worked to reassure locals before the eruption began. He said, “It leaked out this morning, but it’s still far away.” The flat area between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa is located in the Pohakuloa Training Area. I’m hoping it goes away.”