Mauna Loa volcano eruption in Hawaii not immediate threat to residents, travel

The Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii began erupting on Sunday at approximately 11:30 p.m.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 3:19 PM CST

HAWAII (KLTV) - The Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii began erupting on Sunday at approximately 11:30 p.m.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the situation is being closely monitored around the clock by scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency, which are providing regular updates.

Right now, the agency said there is no need to change any travel plans to any of the Hawaiian Islands. Mauna Loa is located on Hawaii Island, the southernmost island of the main island chain. Travel to the other islands – Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Lānai – is unaffected by the eruption.

The agency also said there is no need to change any plans to visit Hawaii Island at this time. The eruption of lava is currently contained within the summit caldera at the top of Mauna Loa. While the eruption has caused Mauna Loa’s Aviation Color Code to be elevated to red, which means a hazardous eruption is imminent, underway or suspected, Hawaii Island’s two major airports in Hilo and Kona are currently open and the eruption is not expected to affect their ability to handle the regularly scheduled flights that arrive and depart each day. The agency said it’s a good idea to check with your airline for the status of your flight.

As for if anybody is in danger from the eruption, as of 6:30 a.m. on November 28, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms that lava has exited Mauna Loa summit and can be seen on the northeast flank. The northeast flank is not populated and does not pose a threat to any communities at this time. Residents and visitors staying in communities downslope of Mauna Loa should have emergency preparedness plans ready in the event an evacuation becomes necessary. Visitors staying in short-term vacation rentals should contact their hosts for more information. The major resort areas of Kailua-Kona, the Kohala Coast, and Hilo are not immediately downslope of the eruption.

The agency said people who suffer from asthma, emphysema, COPD, or other types of breathing problems should take precautions to avoid the ash and vog that are characteristic of volcanic eruptions. This would include either staying indoors or monitoring how the wind is blowing so as not to be caught in an area where ash and vog are heavy and could impair the ability to breathe normally.

The agency said while Hawaii Island is the youngest and most active of the Hawaiian Islands in terms of volcanic activity, eruptions are rare. The last time Mauna Loa erupted was 38 years ago in 1984. The island’s most recent eruption took place in 2018 when Kīlauea Volcano erupted and lava flowed for several months.