Miami Herald

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa erupts; officials warn people to prepare


Waves of orange, glowing lava and smoky ash belched and sputtered Monday from the world’s largest active volcano in its first eruption in 38 years, and officials told people living on Hawaii’s Big Island to be ready in the event of a worst-case scenario.

The eruption of Mauna Loa wasn’t immediatel­y endangerin­g towns, but the U.S. Geological Survey warned the roughly 200,000 people on the Big Island that an eruption

“can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.”

Officials told residents to be ready to evacuate if lava flows start heading toward populated areas.

Many now living in the area weren’t around when Mauna Loa last erupted 38 years ago.

Lifelong Big Island resident Bobby Camara, who lives in Volcano Village, said everyone across the island should keep track of the eruption. He said he has seen three Mauna Loa eruptions and stressed the need for vigilance.

“I think everybody should be a little bit concerned,” he said. “We don’t know where the flow is going, we don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

The eruption began late Sunday night following a series of fairly large earthquake­s, said Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observator­y.

Gunner Mench, who owns an art gallery in Kamuela, said he awoke shortly after midnight and saw an alert on his phone about the eruption.

Mench and his wife,

Ellie, ventured out to film the eerie red glow cast over the island, watching as lava spilled down the volcano’s side.

“You could see it spurting up into the air, over the edge of this depression,” Mench said.

“Right now, it’s just entertainm­ent, but the concern is” it could reach populated areas, he said.

There has been a surge of developmen­t on the Big Island in recent decades — its population has more than doubled, from 92,000 in 1980.

Scientists hope the flow will parallel the eruption in 1984, when the lava was more viscous and slowed down.

The USGS warned residents who could be threatened by the lava flows to review their eruption preparatio­ns. Scientists had been on alert because of a recent spike in earthquake­s at the summit of the volcano.

Portions of the Big Island were under an ashfall advisory issued by the National Weather Service in Honolulu. It said up to a quarter-inch of ash could accumulate in some areas.

Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes on the Big Island.

Mauna Loa, rising 13,679 feet above sea level, is the much larger neighbor of Kilauea, which erupted and destroyed 700 homes in 2018.

 ?? U.S. Geological Survey via AP ?? The Mauna Loa volcano erupts from vents on the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday.
U.S. Geological Survey via AP The Mauna Loa volcano erupts from vents on the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday.

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