The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency announced at 06:00 (local time) that a small steam explosion occurred at the Kilauea volcano in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 19. An ash plume rose about 2100 m (7000 ft) into the air following the eruption. Numerous fissures near the Lanipuna Gardens continued to erupt on Saturday, causing lava flow. Fast-moving lava isolated 40 homes in a rural subdivision below the volcano, resulting in four people being evacuated by helicopter. Residents living along Highway 137 between Isaac Hale Beach Park to Kalapana have been advised to prepare for voluntary evacuation if the highway becomes threatened by lava flow.
A “red” level aviation alert remains in effect as of May 19, due to the ongoing eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. A red alert indicates that a major volcanic eruption may be imminent. The decision, made by the US Geological Survey (USGS) on May 15, came amid intensifying ash eruptions and the production of rock projectiles from volcanic explosions. Flight disruptions due to the presence of ash in the atmosphere are possible in the coming hours and days, notably at Kona International Airport (KOA).
Nearby residents on Hawai'i Island (“Big Island”) are being told to be prepared to evacuate on short notice; 1700 people have already been evacuated in recent days. A number of earthquakes have also shaken the area, the strongest of which have measured 5.0 on the Richter scale.
Kilauea began erupting on May 3. Lava flows have since destroyed dozens of homes and forced the evacuations of thousands of people from the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens communities. Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has been closed since May 11 as a precaution. US President Donald Trump has declared a state of major disaster in Hawaii, making federal funding available for recovery operations. No casualties have been attributed to the heightened volcanic activity as of early May 17.
Individuals in Hawaii are advised to avoid the affected area, monitor the situation, confirm flight reservations, follow any instructions issued by the local authorities (e.g. evacuation orders), and wear respiratory masks and covering clothing to protect skin from ashfall in affected areas.
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