Kilauea volcano erupts on 2 May

On Wednesday, 2 May a significant volcanic activity was reported on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, forcing authorities to issue evacuation warnings for residents in neighboring areas. Only three days later, drastic activity occurred as quakes, lava flows and gases were reported on 5 May, triggering further evacuations and disruptions to ground and flight travel.

The volcano continues to cause issues for local residents and travelers alike and may continue to do so for months to come.

Following is a timeline of Kilauea’s volcanic activity as reported by SAFEY:

Wednesday and Thursday, 2-3 May – Volcanic activity reported in Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano

  • Reports of explosive volcano blast hot solid and molten rock fragments and gases into the air. A recommendation was issued by local authorities for residents in the neighboring areas to prepare evacuation plans in case needed. The areas under the advice were: Nanawale Estates, Leilani Estates and Kapoho.
  • Evacuation order were released later on Thursday 3 as Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano started to release lava.

Saturday, 5 May – Kilauea volcano active on Hawaii, potential disruptions

  • Kilauea volcano became increasingly active in Hawaii with quakes, lava flows and gases reported on 5 May.
  • More homes on Hawaii’s Big Island were destroyed on Saturday as eruptions linked to the Kilauea volcano increased. Officials stated that ten volcanic vents have opened and lava continued to flow into residential areas, forcing nearly 2,000 people to evacuate. Scientists forecast more eruptions and more earthquakes, possibly for months to come.

Tuesday, 8 May – New fissures open at Hawaii volcano

  • Authorities reported 12 new fissures in Leilani Estates, on Hawaii’s Big Island, on 8 May. The new fissures indicated the continuing activity of the volcano, which had at this point caused major disruptions and localized evacuations in the region.

Wednesday, 9 May – Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupts again on 9 May, more evacuations

  • Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted again on Wednesday, 9 May, spewing toxic gases out of two new vents and prompting the County of Hawaii Civil Defence Agency to order an immediate evacuation of residents from Lanipuna Gardens area, on the east side of the Big Island.

Thursday, 11 May – Toxic gas alert for Hawaii volcano eruption

  • Residents on the Big Island of Hawaii were alerted on Thursday, 11 May, to rising levels of toxic gas from lava-oozing fissures. According to authorities, sulfur dioxide gas could be fatal if inhaled in large quantities. Additionally, areas east of the erupting Kilauea volcano were reported to be at risk of molten rocks bursting from the ground. Authorities warned that mass evacuations may be required.

Saturday, 13 May – New fissures open on Hawaii’s Kilauea

  • Two new fissures opened up on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano east flank, spewing out more magma, gas plumes and debris. The two new openings brought up the total to 17 open fissures since the lava flows began on 3 May. Officials warned that the fresher magma could threaten to start a series of explosive eruptions, which could spread ash plumes 12 miles from the volcano.

Monday, 15 May – More volcanic Activity on Hawaii

  • Volcanic activity continued in the Leilani subdivision of Hawaii’s Puna District as of the morning of Tuesday, 15 May. Officials identified at least 20 fissures in the region, and lava emissions were ongoing at several points along the northeastern extent of the fissure line. Many volcanic vents continued to spew high levels of Sulfur dioxide in the lower Puna District.

Tuesday, 16 May – Flight warnings from Hawaiian volcanic ash

  • Flight warnings were issued to airline companies due to Hawaiian volcanic ash on 16 May. The Kilauea Volcano created an ash plume that rose several kilometers high, with a potential to cause danger or interruptions to flights.

Thursday, 17 May – Explosive eruption and damaging earthquakes reported around Kilauea volcano

  • Reports emerged of several slightly damaging earthquakes around the Kilauea volcano, in Hawaii, on Thursday, 17 May. Many roads were damaged as a result, including the Highway 11 near the entrance of Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.
  • A new explosive eruption was also reported in Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on Thursday, 17 May, sending an ash plume thousands of meters into the air. About 2,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes.

Sunday, 20 May – New lava flows and ash plume at Hawaii’s Kilauea

  • New lava flows and a continued ash plume were reported at the volcano on 20 May. The lava flows engulfed new homes, while the ash plume created an ongoing hazard for flights in the region.

Tuesday, 22 May – New safety warnings due to Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano

  • New safety warning about toxic gas were issued for the Big Island’s southern coastline after lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began flowing into the ocean and setting off a chemical reaction.

SAFEY will continue to monitor the volcanic activity as the situation develops.

SAFEY provides the following advice during significant volcanic activity:

Explosive volcanoes blast hot solid and molten rock fragments and gases into the air. As a result, ashflows can occur on all sides of a volcano and ash can fall hundreds of kilometers downwind. Dangerous mudflows and floods can occur in valleys leading away from volcanoes. If you live near a known volcano, active or dormant, be prepared to follow volcano safety instructions from your local emergency officials.

Mudflows are powerful “rivers” of mud that can move 32-64 km/h (20 to 40 mph). Hot ash or lava from a volcanic eruption can rapidly melt snow and ice at the summit of a volcano. The melt water quickly mixes with falling ash, with soil cover on lower slopes, and with debris in its path. This turbulent mixture is dangerous in stream channels and can travel more than 80 km (50 miles) away from a volcano. Intense rainfall can also erode fresh volcanic deposits to form large mudflows. If you see the water level of a stream begin to rise, quickly move to high ground. If a mudflow is approaching or passes a bridge, stay away from the bridge.

Stay out of the area defined as a restricted zone by government officials. Effects of a volcanic eruption can be experienced many kilometers from a volcano. Mudflows and flash flooding, wildland fires, and even deadly hot ashflow can reach you even if you cannot see the volcano during an eruption. Avoid river valleys and low-lying areas. Trying to watch an erupting volcano up close is very dangerous.