Hawaiian volcano eruption threatens major highway with lava flow

Rivers of bright lava spewing from the world’s largest volcano could swallow the main highway connecting the east and west coasts of Hawaii’s Big Island by the end of this week, experts said, and there’s nothing humans can do to stop it. Could

Mauna Loa awoke from its 38-year slumber on Sunday, spewing volcanic ash and debris into the sky. Molten rock drawing thousands of onlookers to Route 200 as it passes Hawaii Volcano National Park, and they bear the thick smell of volcanic gases and sulfur to see the wide stream of lava creeping up close.

“It’s a thrill,” said Catherine Tarananda, 66, of Waimea. He set two alarms to ensure that he would not miss the chance to see the eruption at sunrise. “We are in the middle of raw nature. It’s awesome that we live in this place… I feel really, really lucky to be an islander.

Lava slowly rolling down the slope has come within several miles of the highway, which runs through old lava flows. Known as the Saddle Road, it bisects the island, connecting the cities of Hilo and Kailua-Kona. If this becomes impassable, an alternative route is the long coastal road, which takes several hours of driving.

Ken Hone, scientist in charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said Wednesday that at current flow rates, the lava could reach the road in two days, although it would probably take longer. “As the lava flow expands, it will probably interfere with its progress,” Hon said.

Hon said the lava overcame the Mauna Loa Observatory access road on Monday night and cut off its power. It is the world’s leading station that measures heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The federal government is looking for a temporary alternative site on the Hawaiian Islands and is considering blowing up a generator at the observatory to get its power back on so it can take measurements again.

Meanwhile, scientists are trying to measure the gas released from the eruption.

Anne Anderson skipped her overnight shift as a nurse to watch the spectacle on Wednesday, fearing the road would soon be closed.

“This is Mother Nature showing us her face,” he said, as volcanoes spewed gas on the horizon. “It is very exciting.”

Gordon Brown, a visitor from Loomis, California, could see the bright orange lava from the bedroom of his rental home, so he and his wife went outside to take a closer look. “It’s so bright, it just blows my mind,” Brown said.

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. The current eruption is the 34th since written record-keeping began in 1843. Its smaller neighbor Kilauea has been erupting since September 2021, so visitors to the national park were treated to a rare view of two eruption events simultaneously. : The glow from Kilauea’s lava lake and lava from the Mauna Loa fissure.

Officials were initially concerned that lava flowing from Mauna Loa would head toward the community of South Kona, but scientists later assured the public that the eruption had moved into a rift zone on the volcano’s northeast flank and would not affect communities. There was no danger.

Governor David Ige has issued an emergency proclamation to allow responders to arrive early or limit access as needed. He has dealt with several volcanic eruptions during his eight years as governor, and said it is impossible to redirect the glowing rock.

“There is no physical way or technical way to change where the lava flows,” Ige told a news conference.

Ige, referring to the Hawaiian god of volcanoes and fire, said, “We are overwhelmed by what nature and Madame Pele’s power can do.”

The governor said that if the lava crosses the highway, the Hawaii National Guard can help plan alternatives and try to establish a bypass route.

Read full story at the guardian.com

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