Tuesday,  March 21, 2023  12:28 am

Hawaii's Kīlauea has erupted, but your vacation plans are safe

Hawaii's Kīlauea has erupted, but your vacation plans are safe
Fissure 17 as seen from the air on Monday, May 17, around 7:00 a.m. HST, when the overall vigor of fissure appeared to have dropped from the previous two days. Twenty fissures have erupted in the lower Puna District on the Island of Hawai‘i as of May 17, and additional fissures could still open as this eruption on Kīlauea Volcano's East Rift Zone continues. USGS photo.

At 4:17 a.m. HST on May 17, 2018, a steam and ash eruption occurred from Halema'uma'u Crater within Kīlauea Caldera at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, resulting in an ash cloud that drifted northeast. Ash emissions continue from Kīlauea summit, which may affect the surrounding areas toward Ka'ū, Volcano, Mountain View, Kea'au and as far as Hilo.

Despite the eruption, the Hawaiian Tourism Authority is emphasizing to travellers that Hawaii is open for business, and there's absolutely no reason to cancel your vacation plans, be them business or leisure.

Air Access & Air Quality

All flights into the Hawaiian Islands are operating normally, and all airports in the Hawaiian Islands continue to operate normally. Air quality remains largely unchanged with this situation. However, air quality near where the volcanic activity on the island of Hawai'i is occurring can be hazardous (SO2-sulfur dioxide) and light ash fall may be present. Officials are continuing to monitor air quality.

Those with breathinng issues such as asthma should minimize their exposure by staying inside and keeping the windows and doors closed. If you plan on driving near the site of eruption, keep your windows rolled up.

Accommodations and Activities

All accommodations, activities and attractions throughout the Hawaiian Islands are operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the volcanic activity on the island of Hawai'i. None of the Hawaiian Islands are affected by Kīlauea volcano except a remote area along the Lower East Rift Zone on the island of Hawai'i's east side, Kīlauea Summit and surrounding areas.

Visitors who have already booked a trip to the island of Hawai'i with accommodations or activities in/near the Puna district, should call their provider with any questions or concerns.

Kīlauea Summit Activity

Steam and ash outbursts from Halema'uma'u crater are occurring in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park (approximately 40 miles away from the Lower East Rift Zone) and being monitored. This is a natural occurrence as rocks fall into the crater and magma interacts with the groundwater (water table).

Message from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park emergency managers are urging motorists to slow down and use caution on Highway 11, particularly between mile markers 29 and 29, and Pi'i Mauna Road, due to cracks in the road and uneven surfaces resulting from an earthquake that occurred on May 16. In addition, motorists are reminded that stopping for non-emergency purposes along the side and shoulders of Highway 11 in Park territory to view the plumes is prohibited.

For Park updates, visit https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm.

East Rift Zone eruption location

The volcanic activity and where lava has flowed along the East Rift Zone in/near Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions is limited to an isolated area in Lower Puna on the island of Hawai'i's east side. This area in the Puna district covers only less than a 10-square-mile area of the island's 4,028 square miles. The district of Puna is approximately 500 square miles, or the size of half of Rhode Island.

This is more than 100 driving miles away from the western Kohala and Kona Coasts, where the island's major visitor accommodations and resorts are located, and the area furthest from the current activity.

In addition, Hilo town is approximately 20 miles away, and accommodations and activities are unaffected by Kīlauea volcano.

Kīlauea is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, and has been erupting for the past 35 years. The topography of the island between east and west is unconducive for a natural flow.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Most of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is closed until further notice. The Park's Kahuku Unit, which includes a 9-mile scenic drive, cinder cone, and several hiking options, is open during its normal hours, Friday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For Park updates, visit https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lava2.htm. For Volcano Watch updates, visit https://on.doi.gov/2r8G4zE.

Accessibility in Puna

Road closures are taking place on select areas of Highway 130, 132 and 137. No access is allowed at this time for residents of Lanipuna Gardens.

Residents and visitors who do not have official business in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens are asked to stay away from the area.

As a precaution, residents of Lower Puna between Kapoho and Kalapana are advised to be on alert in the event of possible volcanic activity in the area.

Temporary flight restrictions are in place for most of Lower Puna.

Unless otherwise noted, area businesses are open and accessible. Motorists are advised to drive with caution and be prepared for increased traffic.

Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has closed Lava Tree State Monument and Mackenzie State Recreation Area until further notice.

All beach parks in Lower Puna have been closed, including the Pohoiki Boat Ramp.

The County of Hawai'i has closed the Kalapana Viewing Area until further notice.

To follow along with updates, visit the Hawai'i Tourism Authority special alerts http://www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/news/special-alert/

To watch the volcano's activity, click here.