Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted from its summit just before dawn on Thursday
Scientists predict the explosive ballistic displays could go on for weeks, and they don’t know when it will stop
It started spewing large amounts of volcanic ash and smoke from Kilauea’s crater on Hawaii’s Big Island
Authorities urged people to shelter in place if they are in the smoke plume path
It is expected to cover large areas of the Big Island in volcanic ash and smog, as well as other Hawaiian Islands
Explosion came a day after ‘ballistic blocks’ the size of microwave ovens started shooting from the volcano
Volcanic activity has been going on for two weeks with the opening of more than a dozen fissures east of the crater that spewed lava into neighborhoods
About 2,000 people have been evacuated from the area as lava destroyed at least 26 homes
By EMILY CRANE
18 May 2018
Scientist predictions from eight days ago of powerful steam-driven explosions at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano have come true, as they say eruptions are likely to continue.
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday and sent ash spewing 30,000 feet into the sky before raining down on a nearby town, with residents being warned to shelter in place as the dusty plume engulfs the island.
Experts say the explosive ballistic displays could go on for weeks – and they don’t know when it’s going to stop.
The powerful, steam-driven explosion occurred at 4.17am and started spewing large amounts of volcanic ash and smoke from the crater on Hawaii’s Big Island that shot higher than the peak of Mount Everest.
Geologists have warned that the volcano could become even more violent, with increasing ash production and the potential that future blasts could hurl boulders from the summit.
The wind could carry the ash plume as far as Hilo, the Big Island’s largest city and major tourism center, the County of Hawaii Civil Defense warned in an alert.
‘Protect yourself from ash fallout,’ the warning alert said. ‘The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area.
‘You should shelter in place if you are in the path of the ash plume. Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves.’
USGS geologists and staff were evacuated from the summit shortly before the blast and a webcam showed a gray plume of ash and chunks of magma known as pyroclasts that showered the volcano’s slopes.
An aviation red alert was also issued due to risks that ash could be carried into aircraft routes and damage jet engines.
The eruption could not only enshroud large areas of the Big Island in volcanic ash and smog but other Hawaiian Islands and potentially distant areas if the plume reaches up into the stratosphere and ash is carried by winds.
National Guard troops donned gas masks to protect themselves from toxic sulfur dioxide gas at the intersection of highways 130 and 132, the main exit routes from the village of Pahoa, 25 miles east of the volcano, where many of the ground fissures have erupted.
Toby Hazel, who lives in Pahoa near the mountain, said she heard ‘a lot of booming sounds’ on Thursday after days of earthquakes.