Everyone dreams of living in a tropical paradise like Hawaii, that is until Mother Nature blows her top and makes things extremely difficult for everyone. Mt. Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii erupted again on Thursday in magnificent form. The volcano is one of the most active in the world and multiple images of the lava flowing into the Pacific Ocean, particularly at sunset, are amazing. The latest eruption is causing significant problems because the lava is flowing inland across roads and towards residential properties.
According to multiple reports, Thursday eruptions went as high as 100 to 150 feet in the air. This forced local officials to evacuate the residential areas of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens. Last night after 11:30 pm the Hawaiian Governor posted this to his twitter account, “UPDATE: The lava is flowing onto streets in the subdivision, which consists of about 770 structures. The lava flow has prompted the mandatory evacuation of about 1,700 residents of Leilani Estates. Residents are being sheltered at Pāhoa Community Center & Kea‘au Community Center.”
Kilauea volcano, Hawaii
What most people who have never experienced a volcano eruption before is that it is not just the lava that you have to worry about. When the volcano erupts, it also spews ash, dangerous gas, and steam into the air. So imagine as you are trying to drive away from the volcano and ash is falling on you and the smell of sulfur is surrounding you, Not precisely the tropical paradise you envisioned for your vacation. Another little-known fact is that you cannot turn on your windshield wipers as the ash is falling because there are tiny particles of glass and sand in the ash that will scrap and scratch your windshields to the point where you can’t see out of them anymore.
The smell of sulfur will permeate the air. The sulfur smells like rotten eggs, not pleasant at all. But more dangerous than that is the levels of sulfur dioxide that will be in the air. So anyone with any type of breathing problems like Asthma or COPD will experience significant difficulties in breathing. Since Hawaii is home to this very active volcano, I am confident their response teams and emergency professionals will respond quickly and appropriately. It is the visitors to the Big Island who are entirely unfamiliar with this type of natural occurrence that I hope take the appropriate measures to stay safe.