Alert level for Mauna Loa volcano downgraded to ‘watch’ as eruption wanes
HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - The alert level for the Mauna Loa volcano has been downgraded from a warning to a watch as the eruption wanes — with both lava output and gas emissions on the decline.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Saturday most lava from Fissure 3 is now confined to a pond.
Short lava flows active about 1.5 miles from the vent Friday have since mostly stalled.
The flow front in the Humuula Saddle region has stagnated 1.9 miles from the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) and is no longer a threat, officials said.
“The eruption still is at an extremely low level at this point and it’s contained within the cinder cone at the fissure 3 vent,” U.S. Geological Survey scientists said, in an update Sunday morning.
“There are no lava flows that were active outside of the cone overnight, it is no longer producing lava that is moving outside and down the mountain. This is consistent with what we see on our instruments — with almost no tremors.”
Decreasing the alert level for the volcano means there are limited hazards associated with the eruption.
The announcement comes after officials previously said the eruption was no longer posing a threat to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, a key thoroughfare that connects Hilo and Kona.
Meanwhile, a temporary flight restriction over the volcano remains in effect through Dec. 17.
And officials continued to reiterate there is no direct threat to downslope communities.
Last week, 20 Hawaii National Guard members were activated to assist law enforcement with traffic control measures.
One main goal: To ensure lava spectators are able to safely get through a special viewing area.
Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said beginning Saturday, tour vehicles of up to 15 people are now allowed to pass through the alternate lava viewing route.
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The Mauna Loa eruption started Nov. 27 after months of elevated earthquake activity. The 13,681-foot Mauna Loa volcano had been rumbling more in the last several months, prompting many to believe an eruption was imminent. The last time Mauna Loa erupted was in 1984.
For details on volcano hazard zones, click here.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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