Vog from Puna eruption spreads as emissions increase

Vog from Puna eruption spreads as emissions increase

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Haze hung in the air over Honolulu Friday, a direct result of the week-old eruptive phase in the lower Puna District on the Big Island.

"We have a plume of vog that kind of split around the Big Island a day and a half ago and it's worked its way here," said University of Hawaii Meteorology Professor Dr. Steven Businger. "Luckily it's not the full plume. It's just a small fraction of the plume."

The forecast models for volcanic haze and sulfur dioxide show most of the plume headed south of the smaller islands. But the fissures from Leilani Estates are now showing up on the forecast maps, and they are pumping a lot of emissions, especially over the Big Island.

"It was around 15-hundred tons per day, and it has climbed to over ten-thousand tons per day during the past week or so," said Businger.

Businger said it could spell a return of thick vog that could last days, similar to episodes a few years ago, after Kilauea's overlook crater opened in Halemaumau.

"If the winds were to turn southeasterly, then we would see pretty bad vog episodes over Oahu, like we saw in 2008 and 2011," he said.

"I see more patients coming in when the vog is acting up," said Dr. Ignasia Tanone, an emergency room physician at the Queen's Medical Center. "It's usually people coming in with bad allergies, or asthmatics, or people with lung issues like COPD. They come in with more coughing, more trouble breathing."

Dr. Tanone said there are some medications that help, but the increased vog will mean more health problems.

"I would just stay indoors, but unfortunately there's not a whole lot else that we can do."

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