Kilauea Spews Ash 2 Miles Into Sky, Hawaiian Updates Travel Waiver

May 16, 2018

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Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano saw a new eruption Tuesday night that spewed plumes of ash and smoke as high as two miles into the sky, officials said.

According to pilots’ reports, the wall of smoke swirled as high as 12,000 feet into the air after multiple small earthquakes shook the Big Island on Tuesday.

“We are observing more or less continuous emissions of ash,” Steve Brantley of the federal Hawaiian Volcano Observatory told USA Today.

The Volcano Observatory Notification for Aviation issued a code red alert after the eruption. A code red alert means that “eruption is underway…with significant emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.”

At 11:43 HST, Civil Air Patrol flight CAP20 reported plume tops at about 9,500 ft with the dispersed plume rising as high as 11,000 ft. The CAP mission was launched from Hilo in support of Hawai‘i County Civil Defense and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory response to the ongoing eruption.
At 11:43 HST, Civil Air Patrol flight CAP20 reported plume tops at about 9,500 ft with the dispersed plume rising as high as 11,000 ft. The CAP mission was launched from Hilo in support of Hawai‘i County Civil Defense and USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory response to the ongoing eruption.

In response to Kilauea’s wall of volcanic ash, Hawaiian Airlines extended its existing travel waiver through May 31, stating Hawaiian passengers traveling to/from Hilo, Hawaii (ITO) or Kona, Hawaii (KOA) between May 3, 2018, and May 31, 2018, will be permitted a one-time reservation change with waiver of change fee provided that:

  • Ticket was issued on/before May 4, 2018
  • Affected flight(s) is/are originally scheduled for travel on May 3, 2018 through May 31, 2018
  • Changes must be ticketed for new flights no later than June 7, 2018
  • New travel must commence no later than June 7, 2018

All other airlines serving Hawaii did not update their most recent travel waivers.

Kilauea, Hawaii’s most active volcano, has been continually erupting for almost two weeks, with this latest column of ash being the largest eruptive activity since the volcano began spewing lava on May 3. Scientist say this latest activity is similar to a 1924 eruption in which Kilauea shot ash 20,000 feet in the air and bombed rocks as large as refrigerators into the surrounding region.

Scientists report that strong trade winds were blowing the ash and smoke southwest away from the island.

Officials are not able to predict when this eruption might end. “At any time, activity may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent,” the US Geological Survey said in a statement Tuesday.

All photos courtesy USGS.

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