Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Tanya Grypachevskaya
Hawaii's Mauna Loa Volcano Is Erupting After Nearly 40 Years. Here's What Travelers Should Know
Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Volcano is erupting for the first time in nearly 40 years. No evacuations are currently in place, but travelers to the Big Island should be prepared for the worse.
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, the Hawaiian Tourism Authority says there’s no need to change travel plans.
“It will be spectacular where it is, but the chances of it interrupting the visitor industry – very, very slim,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth.
According to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority, the volcano began erupting on Nov. 27 at 11:30 p.m. local time, with the lava contained within the summit caldera.
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As of Nov. 28, lava is only exiting from the northeast flank of the volcano’s summit. The good news is the area is not populated and currently not posing a threat to any communities at this time.
“Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole (KOA) and Hilo International Airport (ITO) – are operating normally,” local officials stated. “However, it is highly recommended that you check with your airline on your flight status.”
Are There Dangers For Travelers With Health Problems?
People with asthma, emphysema, COPD, or other breathing problems should take precautions to avoid the ash and vog.
Vog is described as a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight.
If you’re traveling to the Big Island during the eruption with health problems, the best thing to do is avoid the area. But if you’re travel plans are not flexible, you should stay indoors and monitor how the wind is blowing. This will allow you to avoid being caught in areas where ash and vog are heavy, which could ultimately impair the ability to breathe normally.
Where Is the Mauna Loa?
The Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that make up the Big Island of Hawaii – the southernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago.
The volcano’s volume is estimated at 18,000 cubic miles, making it the world’s largest volcano when measured from the ocean floor.
The last time the volcano erupted was in 1984. According to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Website, the Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843, which averages about once every five years.
For context, Hawaii Island is the youngest and most active of the Hawaiian Islands for volcanic activity. The Kilauea is the youngest and most active volcano on the island and one of the busiest in the world.
Local Authorities Urge “Volcano Tourists” To Keep Roads Clear
As you can imagine, the erupting volcano is attracting visitors from all over the world.
Hawai’i County has issued an emergency proclamation stating, “due to eruption activity and spectator interest creating road hazards on Daniel K. Inouye Highway (DKI), [the county] is prohibiting all vehicles from stopping or parking on DKI between the sixteen-mile marker (16MM) and the thirty-one-mile marker (31 MM), except as permitted at designated parking lots.”
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You can also stay updated by visiting the USGS website for updates.