Hawaii island might have little warning before a Mauna Loa eruption, scientists say
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are still no signs of an imminent eruption on Mauna Loa, but residents are being warned they could get just a few hours notice before an eruption.
After weeks of elevated earthquake rates, officials are now holding public meetings warning families to prepare for a natural disaster that could affect half of the island.
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge Ken Hon says even after it begins, they may not know where the lava is going.
“We cannot tell you if it’s going down the rift zone until the volcano tells us it’s going down the rift zone,” said Hon.
“Mauna Loa covers 51% of the island, anywhere within that 51% could be impacted,” said Civil Defense Agency Administrator Talmadge Magno.
Civil defense leaders say they have plans for shelters and evacuation corridors.
The Leilani Estates eruption in 2018 showed schools, churches and non-profits are a big help.
The Ka’u District faces a unique challenge, residing in a region with around 20,000 people. Highway 11 is the only way out for many and residents say they’re worried.
“There’s no way even 10,000 people are gonna get out of here safely if she erupts,” said Ocean View resident Paulette Frerichs.
“Pray to akua that Mauna Loa doesn’t go on both sides of the highway,” added Ocean View resident Linda Elves.
Ocean View resident David Anitop said if residents only have a few hours to get out “that’s gonna be a big challenge.”
“It’s gonna be fend for yourself and hopefully you can get out of here,” added Ocean View resident Packy Taylor.
The USGS has Mauna Loa at a “yellow advisory” ― meaning be prepared.
“Orange watch” means start moving.
Nearly 40 years after Mauna Loa’s last eruption, scientists say the world’s largest active volcano is overdue — and this community’s only option is to be ready.
The next public meeting is set for Thursday at the Pahala Community Center at 7 p.m.
Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.