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TIMELINE: Kilauea has been in a state of ‘non-eruptive unrest’ for 2 years. Not anymore.

Updated: Dec. 21, 2020 at 12:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Halemaumau Crater eruption seemed to come out of nowhere, surprising Hawaii Island residents and even experts on Sunday night.

Kilauea has been in a period of “non-eruptive unrest” since its 2018 eruption ended.

That eruption in the lower East Rift Zone destroyed hundreds of homes and leveled entire communities. The eruption Sunday, however, is within the crater and authorities say at this time there is no threat to communities in the lower East Rift Zone.

Here’s a timeline of how Kilauea’s latest eruption started:

  • Around 9:30 p.m.: Officials report the start of the eruption at Halemaumau Crater.
  • 10:36 p.m.: USGS logs an earthquake that rattles parts of Hawaii Island. It measured 4.4 magnitude and was centered at a depth of 3.4 miles down. Photos also begin surfacing showing the bright orange glow and thick plume of smoke and ash rising.
  • 10:49 p.m.: NWS issues ashfall advisory for the Kau district, including the Pahala, Wood Valley, Naalehu and Ocean View areas. It was set to last until 2 a.m.
  • 11 p.m.: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory raises volcano alert level raised to “warning” and aviation color code switched to “Red.” This is a signal to aviators to avoid flying over the area.
  • 11:25 p.m.: Hawaii County Civil Defense warns Kau resident to prepare for ashfall.
  • 12:10 a.m.: Big Island Civil Defense confirms no evacuations are needed as the activity is contained to Halemaumau Crater.
  • 12:15 a.m.: USGS reports lava fountains shot nearly 165 feet into the sky from a fissure on the eastern side. Lava replaced the water that was in the basin of the crater, and a new lava lake was formed, creating a fiery glow that drew spectators from across the island.
  • 12:21 a.m.: NWS says eruption at Kilauea “appears to be diminishing.” A low-level steam cloud was lingering and no ashfall was reported downwind of the crater.
  • 2 a.m.: The ash advisory for Hawaii Island expires. Scientists analyzed data and said it appeared that the plume from the eruption was mostly steam, and not filled with other ash and debris.
  • 6:15 a.m.: County Civil Defense and HVO authorities report the eruption within the crater has stabilized but the lava lake remains. Two of three fissures remain active.

This story will be updated.

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