Breakout advances past Puna lava flow, pushes toward Pahoa

Published: Oct. 12, 2014 at 5:16 PM HST
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Photo courtesy: USGS
Photo courtesy: USGS
Photo courtesy: USGS
Photo courtesy: USGS

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawai‘i County Civil Defense officials say a narrow breakout along the north side of the Puna lava flow has advanced approximately 60 yards, becoming the new leading edge. Officials say as of Sunday morning's overflight, the original flow front continues to be active but has slowed. They say all burning activity is limited to vegetation in direct contact with the flow -- however, smoke conditions were moderate to heavy Sunday in the Ka'ohe Homesteads area due to a light northwest wind.

USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says activity along the June 27th lava flow is consistent as lava continues moving through the tube from Pu'u 'O'o crater to the flow front directly toward Pahoa, even the advance rate has slowed significantly. Geologists say since October 3, the average rate of advancement has slowed to 94 yd/day. As a result, they project the lava could reach Apa'a St. in about 18 days, on October 28. According to USGS, the flow front is 0.8 miles upslope from Apa'a Street along a straight line. They say the advance rate of the June 27th flow has varied significantly during the past month and week, and the arrival forecast is subject to change. The next HVO overflight is scheduled for Monday, October 13.

USGS geologists say together the flow front and breakout finger span a distance of 200 yards. They say active breakouts were observed at the flow front, and continue along the tube system upslope from the leading edge of the flow.

Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials say currently all lava flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities. Hawai'i County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira says no evacuation is needed at this time and residents will be given adequate notice to safely evacuate should that be necessary. However, officials say due to the unpredictable nature of the lava flow — residents and visitors are advised to listen for Hawai'i County Civil Defense updates and advisories on the radio.

State Department of Health officials issued an advisory Tuesday urging medically-dependent residents living downslope of the flow's projected route to relocate -- citing the uncertainty of the flow and its possible impact on the community. If the lava flow crosses Highway 130, officials say medical services and supplies will be severely limited and emergency response times may be significantly delayed.

Officials also want to remind people that the flow is not visible and cannot be accessed from any public areas. The Ka'ohe Homesteads subdivision is still restricted to property-owners and residents only.

More details tonight on Hawaii News Now.

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