URGENT: ‘Red Alert’ Warning Issued For Hawaii’s Explosive Kīlauea Volcano

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HAWAII — A red alert warning was issued for Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano on Tuesday.

The warning from the USGS means that ‘a major volcano eruption is imminent, underway or suspected with hazardous conditions both on the ground and in the air.’

As of early this morning, eruption of ash from the Overlook vent within Halemaumau crater at Kilauea Volcano’s summit has generally increased in intensity. Ash has been rising nearly continuously from the vent and drifting downwind to the southwest. Ashfall and vog (volcanic air pollution) has been reported in Pahala, about 18 miles downwind. NWS radar and pilot reports indicate the top of the ash cloud is as high as 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level, but this may be expected to vary depending on the vigor of activity and wind conditions.

Ash emission from the Kilauea summit vent will likely be variable with periods of increased and decreased intensity depending on the occurrence of rockfalls into the vent and other changes within the vent.

At any time, activity may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent.

In early May 2018, hundreds of small earthquakes were detected on Kīlauea’s East rift zone, leading officials to issue evacuation warnings. On May 3, 2018, the volcano erupted in lower Puna after a 5.0 earthquake earlier in the day, causing evacuations of the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions.

A seemingly related 6.9 magnitude earthquake occurred on May 4. By May 9, 27 houses had been destroyed in Leilani Estates.

No deaths have been reported.

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