Kilauea Erupts From Summit, Launches Ash 30,000 Feet into Sky

May 17, 2018

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Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano saw yet another explosive eruption in the wee hours of Thursday morning local time.

The latest eruption occurred at Kilauea’s summit and spewed plumes of ash and smoke as high as 30,000 feet into the sky just after 4:00am local time. The continued ash emissions are reaching about 12,000 feet in the air, the US Geological Survey repots.

The initial explosion likely only lasted a few minutes, a USGS scientist told the AP, but was enough to create a huge new column of volcanic ash that loomed above the Big Island. Continuous seismic activity and new lava fissures have been forming since Kilauea, Hawaii’s most active volcano, initially erupted on May 3.

Nearby residents were reporting trace amounts of volcanic ash raining down.

USGS held its aviation alert level at code red — its highest warning level to pilots on the state of volcanic ash in the atmosphere. Kilauea’s column of smoke and dust could pose serious threats to planes in the area. “Volcanic ash clouds can threaten air traffic by sandblasting windscreens, clogging pitot tubes, and in severe cases, causing jet engines to shut down,” the USGS said in a statement.

United Airlines extended its existing Hawaii travel waiver through May 25. Hawaiian Airlines extended its waiver Wednesday after a similar release of ash warranted a red alert. At time of publication, none of the other airlines serving Hawaii had updated their travel waivers.

Scientists at USGS also warned that with the multiple ash explosions this week, there is an increased chance of “even larger steam-driven violent explosion,” the organization said in a statement Thursday. “Such an eruption could happen suddenly and send volcanic ash 20,000 feet into the air, threatening communities for miles.”

Featured image by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

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