Lava advances; students take excursion to view flow - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lava advances; students take excursion to view flow

Image: USGS Image: USGS
PUNA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) -

After stalling briefly over the weekend, Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials say the Puna lava flow is widening and has advanced approximately 250 yards in the last 24 hours.

Officials say the flow front is now 2.3 miles upslope of the Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road intersection. According to Hawai'i County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira, none of the activity poses any immediate threat to area communities. Officials say the flow is burning through wet vegetation as a result of recent rain in the area, so there are no brush fire concerns at this time.

USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say the new leading edge of the lava flow developed from a narrow flow lobe that branched off the west edge of the original June 27th flow field below the crack system. HVO scientists say the front of the flow is approximately a quarter mile away from where several lines of steepest descent nearly converge due to flat topography, which is likely the reason the flow temporarily slowed over the weekend. Experts say until the flow passes through this area of flat topography, the direction the flow will take is unclear. USGS geologists say the flow front has also entered a burn scar, which has significantly reduced the amount of smoke seen from the flow front on their webcams.

Officials say smoke conditions were moderate Monday morning in the immediate area with a light south west wind blowing the smoke in a north/northeast direction, which has impacted communities in Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park and some parts of Hilo. 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.

The first of several planned school excursions to view the lava flow from the old Pahoa Transfer Station began Monday with students from Pahoa. Hawai'i County officials say partnerships with the University of Hawai'i at Hilo, USGS, HELCO and the Public Works Department are on-site to answer questions and provide education presentations for students who were displaced by the flow. Hawai'i Island Mayor Billy Kenoi pledged providing them with priority access before opening the area to the public.

Pahoa Village Road has reopened to all traffic, 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.

More details tonight on Hawaii News Now.

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