November 28, 2022

UPDATED: December 1, 2022 at 2:15 p.m. HST

OVERVIEW

Maunaloa volcano on Hawai‘i Island began erupting on Sunday, November 27, at approximately 11:30 p.m., with the lava 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 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) and Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA), which are providing regular updates.

As of 6:30 a.m. on November 28, HVO confirms that lava has exited Maunaloa summit and can be seen on the northeast flank. The northeast flank is not populated and does not pose a threat to any communities at this time.

There is no need to change travel plans to Hawaiʻi Island at this time as its two major airports – Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO) – are operating normally. However, it is highly recommended that you check with your airline on the status of your flight.

It is important to remember that this situation is dynamic and can change quickly. Stay informed on the latest by following information on these official websites: 


LATEST UPDATES

  • TRAFFIC HAZARD MITIGATION ROUTE OPENS – Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth announced on Thursday, December 1 that a traffic hazard mitigation route (THMR) along the Daniel K. Inouye Highway was opened to help relieve growing safety concerns due to increased traffic as a result of the ongoing Maunaloa eruption.
     

    • The one-way (eastbound) THMR utilizes the old Saddle Road with the entrance located directly across from the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area. The route spans 4.5 miles from the entryway to a junction point located just before Puʻuhuluhulu.
    • The THMR is for passenger vehicles only. Commercial vehicles are prohibited from entering the THMR. Parking will only be allowed on the right side of the THMR for lava viewing and no vehicle can remain in the area for more than 90 minutes.
    • Motorists are still asked to drive with extreme caution, as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway and the THMR will remain busy through the eruption. The Gilbert Kahele Recreational Area, including restroom facilities, will remain open 24-hours a day until further notice.


VIEWING THE ERUPTION

For the first time since 1984, Kīlauea and Maunaloa are erupting side-by-side which is expected to draw an influx of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (HVNP) who hope to see this rare event. HVNP launched a new “Eruption Viewing” page on its website – https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/eruption-viewing.htm – which provides recommendations for safe viewing.

  • Lava from Kīlauea and a night glow from Maunaloa is currently visible from many areas and overlooks surrounding Kaluapele (Kīlauea caldera) within the park. All visitors are reminded that viewing conditions can change at any time depending on eruptive activity and weather conditions such as fog or rain.
  • Consider factors such as viewing experience, long waits and crowds, hiking ability, and available time when selecting where to view the eruption. Check out the park map and download the new NPS mobile app to help you navigate during your visit.

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway (a.k.a. Saddle Road) has become a popular route for viewing the Maunaloa lava flow. However, please note that no stopping or parking is allowed along the highway between mile marker 16 and 31 at any time. The Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area, about mid-way between the east and west ends of the highway, is open with parking and restrooms.


ROAD/TRAFFIC INFORMATION

  • NO STOPPING OR PARKING ON DANIEL K. INOUYE HIGHWAY BETWEEN MILE MARKER 16 AND 31 – Hawai‘i County issued a supplemental emergency proclamation on November 28, 2022 at 9:25 p.m. stating that due to eruption activity and spectator interest creating road hazards on Daniel K. Inouye Highway (DKI), it is “prohibiting all vehicles from stopping and/or parking on Daniel K. Inouye Highway at any time between the sixteen mile marker (16 MM) and the thirty-one mile marker (31 MM), except as permitted at designated parking lots.”
  • MAUNALOA ROAD, THE SUMMIT AND HIGH-ELEVATION AREAS OF MAUNALOA REMAIN CLOSED – The main section of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park remains open. For notices from Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, click here.


AIR QUALITY INFORMATION

  • AIR QUALITY IMPACTS – The Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) advises the public to be prepared for air quality impacts due to the Maunaloa eruption. As of November 28 at 2:00 p.m. HST, permanent air quality monitoring stations across the state report that air quality remains normal. However, the eruption could cause vog conditions, ash in the air, and levels of sulfur dioxide to increase and fluctuate in various areas of the state. Conditions are changing rapidly, and poor air quality may be very localized. Hawai‘i residents and visitors are advised to be prepared for and aware of the surrounding conditions, and how they may react to poor air quality or vog. In the event of voggy conditions, the following precautionary measures are advised:

    • Reduce outdoor activities that cause heavy breathing. Avoiding outdoor activity and exercise during vog conditions can reduce exposure and minimize health risks. This is especially important for sensitive groups such as children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions including asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic lung and heart disease.
    • People with asthma or a chronic respiratory disease should always have medications available. Daily prescribed medications should be taken on schedule.
    • People experiencing health effects should contact their medical provider as soon as possible if any symptoms develop, as respiratory conditions might worsen rapidly in heavy sulfur dioxide or vog conditions.
    • Stay indoors and close windows and doors. If an air conditioner is used, set it to recirculate. If you need to move out of an impacted area, turn on the car’s air conditioner and set it to recirculate.
    • Face masks (surgical, cloth, KF94, KN95, N95) do not provide protection from sulfur dioxide or vog. However, they can be effective in outdoor environments in reducing inhaled hazardous particulates associated with falling ash and Pele’s hair.
    • Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
    • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Vog and air quality updates are available through the:


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. Maunaloa 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 as its two major airports – Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO) – are operating normally. However, it is highly recommended that you check with your airline on the status of your flight.

Q:  Is this eruption a danger to people on Hawai‘i Island?
A: As of November 28 at 6:30 a.m., Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms that lava has exited Maunaloa summit and can be seen on the northeast flank. The northeast flank is not populated and does not pose a threat to any communities at this time.

Residents and visitors staying in communities downslope of Maunaloa 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 Maunaloa unusual?
A:  The last time Maunaloa erupted was 38 years ago in 1984. According to the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park website, Maunaloa has erupted 33 times since 1843 — averaging once every five years. Over a longer period of time, the past 3,000 years, it is estimated to have erupted once every six years.

To put things into further context, Hawai‘i Island is the youngest and most active of the Hawaiian Islands in terms of volcanic activity. Kīlauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the island of Hawaiʻi, and one of the busiest in the world. Radiating out from the summit, Kīlauea has two rift zones stretching to the east and southwest. These rift zones host most eruptions that occur outside of the summit. The East Rift is historically the more active of the two, most recently erupting from January 1983 to August 2018.

From May to July 2018, a massive eruption on the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea relieved magmatic pressure under Halemaʻumaʻu, causing the crater to collapse and expand from 280 feet (85m) deep and 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide to 1600 feet (487m) deep and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide.

Then in 2019, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists confirmed a growing lake of water inside Halema’uma’u crater. Never before in modern history had there been water visible at the summit of Kīlauea in the form of a lake. But on December 20, 2020, the ten-story deep lake was boiled off when lava re-entered Halemaʻumaʻu during the summit eruption of 2020. It stopped  again in May 2021, then Kīlauea began erupting again on September 29, 2021. It has been ongoing ever since.

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 Maunaloa eruption, including the following:

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