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Residents warned about threat of ashfall after another explosion at Kilauea's summit

Webcam image shows the plume of ash from Thursday morning's explosive eruption at Kilauea (Image: USGS) Webcam image shows the plume of ash from Thursday morning's explosive eruption at Kilauea (Image: USGS)
Huge plumes of ash poured from Halemaumau Crater as volcanic activity at the summit continued. (Image: Janice Wei) Huge plumes of ash poured from Halemaumau Crater as volcanic activity at the summit continued. (Image: Janice Wei)
A thick plume of ash pours out of Halemaumau Crater, sending ash as far away as Pahala. (Image: USGS) A thick plume of ash pours out of Halemaumau Crater, sending ash as far away as Pahala. (Image: USGS)
Ash could be seen falling on cars and homes after an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater. (Image: Hawaii News Now) Ash could be seen falling on cars and homes after an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
New radar images show changes at Kilauea's summit between and May 5 and May 17, when an explosive eruption shot a 5-mile column of ash into the sky. (Image: USGS) New radar images show changes at Kilauea's summit between and May 5 and May 17, when an explosive eruption shot a 5-mile column of ash into the sky. (Image: USGS)
  • breakingResidents warned about threat of ashfall after another explosion at Kilauea's summitMore>>

  • Here's what to do if ash falls in your community

    Here's what to do if ash falls in your community

    Thursday, May 17 2018 5:17 PM EDT2018-05-17 21:17:09 GMT
    Ash fell on cars and homes after an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater. (Image: Hawaii News Now)Ash fell on cars and homes after an explosive eruption at Halemaumau Crater. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

    The possibility of explosive eruptions at Kilauea's summit crater is prompting civil defense officials to warn residents about how to handle ashfall. 

    More >>

    The possibility of explosive eruptions at Kilauea's summit crater is prompting civil defense officials to warn residents about how to handle ashfall. 

    More >>
PAHALA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) -

An explosive eruption early Saturday at the summit of Kilauea created an ash cloud that reached up to 10,000 feet above sea level and prompted warnings about the threat of ashfall as far as Ka'u District.

Civil Defense officials reported the explosion happened around midnight. 

Tradewinds pushed the ash plume to the southwest toward Ka'u, Pahala and Naalehu, and residents of those areas are urged to take precautions. 

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory described the explosion as short-lived, but warned that gas emissions at the summit remain high.

After an explosion Thursday at Kilauea's summit, radar imagery found the eruptive vent at Halemaumau Crater had significantly enlarged.

Officials said the vent's area was about 12 acres on May 5. After an explosion Thursday, which sent an ash plume soaring 30,000 feet into the air, the area of the vent was 34 acres.

Wendy Stovall, of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said explosive eruptions remain a threat at the summit.

The explosion about 4:15 a.m. Thursday at Halemaumau Crater — like Saturday's event — was powerful but short-lived, which meant levels of ash dropping on surrounding communities were not as significant as officials had feared.

Coombs said the eruption Thursday morning was "consistent" with a steam-induced explosion — lava interacting with the water table. Geologists have been warning about such an explosion for days, and have said previous thick emissions from the crater were likely due to rockfalls or gas explosions.

Despite the size of the explosive eruption, a number of nearby residents said they didn't see or hear anything. Scientists say that's because it was dark at the time and because the explosion happened deep in the crater.

But some communities did report light ashfall, much of which was mixed with rain.

In Hilo, resident Pua'ena Ahn said the ash plumes have left him with itchy, watery eyes and skin irritation.

On Thursday afternoon, Gov. David Ige visited the Big Island to reassure residents.

"It's really heartwarming to see the support that is coming from all over the state," Ige said.

Volcanic activity at the summit has been ticking up since last week as lava levels continue to drop. 

On Wednesday, at least 125 shallow quakes rattled Kilauea's summit and neighboring communities, causing minor damage to roads and buildings. The strongest quake in the area was a magnitude 4.4, and dozens more have been upwards of magnitude 3.

Also on Wednesday, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said rocks up to 2 feet wide were hurled from the crater to a parking lot hundreds of yards away.

A day earlier, rockfalls triggered large ash emissions from the crater.

Scientists have warned that eruptions at the summit could send heavy ashfall across communities near the summit and toss boulders "the size of cows" as far as a half a mile.

Given the threat, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed, and civil defense officials are urging those who live near the crater to remain vigilant.

The news comes as civil defense authorities continue to respond to Kilauea's ongoing eruptions in lower Puna, where thousands of people remain under mandatory evacuation orders.

Emissions at Halemaumau Crater have been high for days. On Tuesday, thick, dark columns of ash poured from the crater, extending up to 12,000 feet above sea level and dropping ash as far as 18 miles downwind.


MORE:

► LIST: Lava threat forces evacuations, closures
► Big Island businesses face layoffs, losses as visitor cancellations mount
► Satellite images help tell the story of lava's destruction on Big Island
► 'Dead or dying': Lava, toxic gas decimate crops in lower Puna
► From horses to bunnies, mission underway to rescue pets in lava-ravaged zones
► Here's how to help those affected by the Big Island eruptions


Dramatic images showed large plumes looming over the Volcano Golf Course. In Pahala, residents reported heavy vog and significant ashfall.

The last time steam-induced eruptions happened at Halemaumau Crater was nearly a century ago, when flying debris killed one and left a layer of ash over homes and cars. In 1924, explosive events at the summit lasted for two and a half weeks and ash reached as high as 20,000 feet above sea level.

Scientist say they're using the 1924 event as something of a baseline, using it to determine how long this volcanic event might last and how strong eruptions could be.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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