Hawaii volcano: Drivers are warned of lava inching toward key highway

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CNN

Days after rare twin volcanic eruptions in Hawaii, officials are urging people not to park vehicles along a major highway because lava is flowing nearby.

Kilauea, located in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, has been active for more than a year — and neighboring Mauna Loa erupted on Sunday.

Hawaii officials have said the simultaneous eruptions of Mauna Loa and Kilauea on the Big Island pose no threat to homes or nearby infrastructure.

But by Tuesday, Mauna Loa’s lava had flowed to a point about 4.7 miles (7.5 kilometers) from Saddle Road, the main road that runs through the center of the Big Island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In response, the Hawaii County Civil Defense is urging motorists not to park along Saddle Road. “HPD will provide citations and tow vehicles parked between mile markers 16-31,” the agency said in a Facebook post.

This week marked the first time in nearly 40 years that the two volcanoes — which are about 21 miles (34 km) apart — have erupted together. The rare sight became even more spectacular on Tuesday when two new lava flows flowed past Mauna Loa, according to the Geological Bureau.

National park officials say the twin eruption will undoubtedly attract many visitors who want to get a look at the glowing rock.

And while there are no known immediate risks to property, air quality could be affected by hazards such as vog or volcanic smog, government officials have warned. Volcanic gas, fine ash and Pele’s Hair (strands of volcanic glass) can be carried downwind, the geological survey said.

Hawaii’s health department warned residents and visitors to be ready for compromised air quality, including “vog conditions, airborne ash and levels of sulfur dioxide to rise and fluctuate in different parts of the state.”

Children, the elderly and people with respiratory illnesses should reduce outdoor activities that cause labored breathing and reduce exposure by staying indoors and closing windows and doors if VOG illnesses develop, the health department said.

Hawaii Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation on Tuesday to direct resources and assist with the Mauna Loa eruption. The state’s National Guard is also on standby, and the state’s Emergency Management Agency has activated its emergency operations center, Major General Ken Hara, adjutant general of the state’s defense department, said at a news conference.

HAWAII - JUNE 6: Lava flows into the ocean from Kilauea Volcano in Volcanoes National Park near Volcano, Hawaii June 6, 2004. Lava from Kilauea has reached the ocean for the first time in nearly a year.  (Photo by Marco Garcia/Getty Images)

Watch: CNN flies over the most active volcanoes in America

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– Source: CNN

Mauna Loa’s eruption earlier this week was more significant than the rarity and excitement of seeing the twin eruptions. For Native Hawaiians, the sites of eruptions hold cultural significance. “While an eruption is an exciting experience, keep in mind that you are observing a sacred event. Kīlauea and Mauna Loa Volcano are wahi kapu (sacred landscapes) surrounded by legendary sites,” the national park website says.

Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, stood at 13,681 feet above sea level and gushed lava fountains as high as 200 feet on Monday, according to the Geological Survey. The eruption was concentrated in Mauna Loa’s northeastern rift zone, where lava flowed from at least one fissure in the volcano, the geological survey said.

“Based on past events, the early stages of an eruption of the Mauna Loa rift zone can be very dynamic and the location and progression of lava flows can change rapidly,” the geological survey said earlier this week.

The eruption and lava flow also closed off the flow and impeded access to a critical climate tool used to preserve the so-called “Keeling Curve,” the authoritative measurement of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and vital scientific evidence for the climate crisis. The Keeling Curve chart consists of daily measurements of carbon dioxide concentration taken at Mauna Loa since 1958.

“It’s a big problem. This is the central record of the current understanding of the climate problem,” said Ralph Keeling, a geoscientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and son of the creator of the Keeling Curve.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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