Red Alert issued for Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, threat of major eruption

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PUNA, HI (KRON) – A Red Alert has been issued for Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, as there is a threat of a major eruption.

The United States Geological Survey issued the warning on Tuesday night.

Officials say there is increased ash emission from the volcano summit.

There is an ash cloud and ashfall downwind, the USGS.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says an ash plume from within Kilauea volcano’s summit crater has risen as high as 12,000 feet above sea level.

Ash has been wafting continuously from a vent in the crater, Halemaumau, and drifting southwest, causing ashfall and volcanic air pollution to be reported as far as 18 miles away.

Authorities have issued an ashfall advisory for the island’s southernmost district until 6 p.m.

Ormat Technologies, which owns a geothermal energy plant in the area, says there is a low risk of lava impacting the facility.

The plant, Puna Geothermal Venture, was shut down after Kilauea first erupted on May 3, and provides roughly one-quarter of daily energy demand on the Big Island.

From the USGS:

Volcanic Activity Summary: 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. 

Resource on volcanic ash hazards: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanic_ash/

Resource on vog: https://vog.ivhhn.org/

Recent Observations: 
[Volcanic cloud height] 10,000 – 12,000 feet 
[Other volcanic cloud information] Drifting generally southwest with tradewinds. 

Hazard Analysis: 
[Ash cloud] The ashcloud is drifting downwind primarily to the southwest with the Trade Winds. Wind conditions are expected to change in the next 24 hours and other areas around Kilauea’s summit are likely to receive ashfall. 
[Ashfall] Ashfall has been reported in the community of Pahala, at locations along Highway 11 from Pahala to Volcano, and in the Ka’u Desert section of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. 
[Other hazards] Ballistic projectiles may be produced should steam-driven explosions occur. Impacts will be limited to an area around Halemaumau. 
[Volcanic gas] Vog or volcanic air pollution produced by volcanic gas has been reported in Pahala. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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