HAWAII — The Hawaii Tourism Authority has issued an update on the Mauna Loa volcano eruption on Hawai‘i Island.
As reported yesterday, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, started to erupt over the weekend for the first time in nearly four decades, prompting volcanic ash and debris to fall nearby.
Says the Hawaii Tourism Authority (represented in Canada by VoX International): “Mauna Loa volcano on Hawai‘i Island began erupting on Sunday, November 27, at approximately 11:30 p.m., with the lava currently contained within the summit caldera at the top of the 13,681-foot volcano. The situation is being closely monitored around the clock by scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency, which are providing regular updates. There is currently no lava flow down the slopes of Mauna Loa and no danger to residents or communities on Hawai‘i Island.”
The tourism authority also issued this Q&A …
Q: Should travel plans to the Hawaiian Islands be postponed or cancelled?
A: There is no need to change travel plans to any of the Hawaiian Islands at this time. Mauna Loa is located on Hawai‘i Island, the southernmost island of the main island chain. Travel to the other islands – Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i – is unaffected by the eruption.
Q: Should travel plans to Hawai‘i Island be re-routed to the other islands?
A: There is no need to change travel plans to Hawaiʻi Island at this time. The eruption of lava is currently contained within the summit caldera at the top of Mauna Loa. While the eruption has caused Mauna Loa’s Aviation Color Code to be elevated to red – which means a hazardous eruption is imminent, underway or suspected – Hawai‘i Island’s two major airports in Hilo and Kona are currently open and the eruption is not expected to affect their ability to handle the regularly scheduled flights that arrive and depart each day. It’s a good idea to check with your airline for the status of your flight.
Q: Is this eruption a danger to people on Hawai‘i Island?
A: While all lava being emitted is currently contained within the summit caldera at the top of Mauna Loa, volcanic eruptions are dynamic and conditions can change quickly. Residents and visitors staying in communities downslope of Mauna Loa should have emergency preparedness plans ready in the event an evacuation becomes necessary. Visitors staying in short-term vacation rentals should contact their hosts for more information. The major resort areas of Kailua-Kona, the Kohala Coast, and Hilo are not immediately downslope of the eruption.
Q: Is there a danger to people with breathing problems from the ash emitted by the eruption?
A: People who suffer from asthma, emphysema, COPD, or other types of breathing problems should take precautions to avoid the ash and vog that are characteristic of volcanic eruptions. This would include either staying indoors or monitoring how the wind is blowing so as not to be caught in an area where ash and vog are heavy and could impair the ability to breathe normally.
Q: Is this eruption of Mauna Loa unusual?
A: While Hawai‘i Island is the youngest and most active of the Hawaiian Islands in terms of volcanic activity, eruptions are rare. The last time Mauna Loa erupted was 38 years ago in 1984. The island’s most recent eruption took place in 2018 when Kīlauea Volcano erupted and lava flowed for several months.
Q: Where can people find the latest information and updates on the eruption?
A: Official channels are the best sources for the latest updates about the Mauna Loa eruption, including the following:
- Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: https://www.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo
- Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency: https://dod.hawaii.gov/hiema/
- Hawai‘i County Civil Defense: https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/departments/civil-defense