Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Massively Erupts

Kilauea volcano Hawaii
Photo by M. Patrick/U.S. Geological Survey via AP/Newscred

A massive eruption occurred at the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii Island Thursday morning, resulting in a plume of ash that stretched roughly six miles high, according to a Reuters report.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) most recent update on the ongoing volcanic activity, which began on May 3, an eruption of steam and ash “occurred from Halemaumau Crater within Kilauea Caldera at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, resulting in an ash cloud that drifted northeast.” 

“Ash emissions continue from Kilauea summit, which may affect the surrounding areas toward Kau, Volcano, Mountain View, Keaau and as far as Hilo,” according to the HTA. According to CNN, rain kept the ash from going very far, and the ashfall was light, but officials still warned people in the area on Hawaii Island to stay indoors and to use one of the 18,000 masks handed out to residents by officials. 

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Scientists also warned that this could be the first in a string of more violent explosive eruptions, according to the Reuters report. And the threat of more eruptions isn't the only concern, as the ongoing activity could also result in earthquakes, with the first one already occurring on Wednesday. According to a Forbes report, a magnitude 4.4 earthquake rattled the volcano's main caldera, damaging roads and buildings in the park.

According to a statement issued by the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, “Hawaii Volcanoes National Park emergency managers are urging motorists to slow down and use caution on Highway 11, particularly between mile markers 29 and 29, and Pii Mauna Road, due to cracks in the road and uneven surfaces resulting from an earthquake that occurred on May 16. 

“In addition, motorists are reminded that stopping for non-emergency purposes along the side and shoulders of Highway 11 in Park territory to view the plumes is prohibited.”

Accommodations and Activities

According to the HTA, all accommodations, activities and attractions throughout the Hawaiian Islands are operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the volcanic activity on the island of Hawaii.

Cruise

Although hotels in popular resort areas on Hawaii Island have all remained opened, the disaster has been causing some cruise disruptions. Princess Cruises recently announced that it has cancelled the Sea Princess call to Hilo on May 18.
 
“Sea Princess continued with her planned port call to Kona, as the port remains open to ship traffic and is operating normally,” according to a statement issued by Princess Cruises. “Guests will have no disruption to shore excursions in Kona, but those with independent arrangements may find some areas of the island inaccessible. Princess advises all guests to heed all warnings from local authorities and stay out of any restricted areas.”
 
Guests with shore excursions in Hilo will be given a credit to stateroom account and pre-paid shore excursions refunded.
 
Norwegian Cruise Line’Pride of America had to skip its call at Hilo on Tuesday, and the cruise line issued a statement Wednesday morning explaining exactly why the decision was made. 

“At Norwegian Cruise Line, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our top priority,” according to the Norwegian statement. “We have been closely monitoring the adverse conditions impacting [Hawaii Island] and are modifying the itinerary of Pride of America to ensure our guests have the best vacation experience possible.
 
“Pride of America will not call in Hilo on Tuesday, May 15th, and as a result will spend the day at sea. On Wednesday, May 16th, Pride of America will not call in Kona, but will add an additional day in Maui and call in Lahaina instead.”

Last week, the volcanic eruption in Hawaii prompted Royal Caribbean to cancel a call by Radiance of the SeasRadiance of the Seas canceled its call at Hilo on May 7, instead spending the day at sea, a Royal Caribbean representative told Travel Agent.

Flights

According to the HTA, all flights into Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA) on the west and Hilo International Airport (ITO) on the east are operating normally. Several airlines have also issued flight waivers due to the eruption for guests scheduled to fly to, from or through Hilo or Kona.

Air Quality

According to the HTA, “Air quality remains largely unchanged with this situation. However, air quality near where the volcanic activity on the island of Hawaii is occurring can be hazardous (SO2-sulfur dioxide) and light ash fall may be present. Officials are continuing to monitor air quality.”

Visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

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