PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials say the Puna lava flow advanced 125 yards since Friday and the leading edge is about 2.4 miles upslope of the Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road intersection. Officials say it still appears to be heading toward Malama Market and the Pahoa Marketplace, but the advance rate has slowed significantly -- to nearly half its previous speed over the last three days. Officials say none of the activity poses any immediate threat to area communities.
USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say the flow is advancing north/northeast both on top of and along the northwest margin of the original June 27th flow. They say the new leading edge is following a different steepest-descent path than the previously active flow lobe, which stalled 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road on October 30. The latest forecast path takes the flow towards the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130, in the vicinity of the Pahoa Marketplace. HVO scientists say the flow has reached an area where several lines of steepest descent nearly converge due to flat topography and is probably the main factor in the decline of the advance rate. Experts say until the flow passes this area of flat topography, the future flow path is uncertain.
Smoke conditions were moderate Saturday in the immediate area with a light north wind blowing the smoke in a south/southeast direction. Officials say smoke conditions may increase in some areas and residents who may be sensitive or have respiratory problems are advised to take precautions and remain indoors, if possible.
Hawai?i County Civil Defense officials met with business owners in the Pahoa Marketplace Thursday afternoon to inform area them about the latest activity and discuss their evacuation needs should an advisory be ordered. Officials say they're in close contact with each business to ensure they will have the individualized time needed to safely leave, but won't issue an evacuation advisory until a threat is imminent.
Pahoa Village Road reopened to all traffic last week, but officials are reminding motorists to drive carefully as some utility pole protection material is still in place. Authorities are also reminding people passing through the area to please respect residents who were affected by the lava flow and do not trespass on private property.
Hawai'i County Civil Defense and Hawaiian Volcano Observatory personnel are continuing to monitor flow activity and say residents down slope will be kept informed of any changes in advancement and status.