Thursday, May 31, 2018

Summit Change

I don't know the significance of it, but the summit has stopped emitting a giant steam plume this morning.  It's eerie. 

Could this mean that the throat is becoming clogged? 

Could this mean that lava has risen above the ground water level? 

Brief Morning Update

The lava flow heading to Kapoho has thankfully slowed down in advancing. Instead of marching onward, it is spreading out. This gives the residents of Vacationland and Kapoho more time. The flow front is now advancing at only 50 yards per hour, far slower than yesterday. But fissure 8 is still maintaining fountains 200'-250' high, so there's lots of lava still erupting from below ground. 

With this volcano, I never knows from day to day what will happen. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Eruption Update

This disaster continues in Puna. More structures are destroyed. More lava flows are traveling a distance. Route 132 is effectively blocked. One flow is heading for Beach Road where, if it crosses the road, will trap anything not evacuated from Pohoiki area. Another flow is heading for Kopoho, where if it continues, will isolate Vacationland subdivision and Kapoho Beach Lots. People are being warned to evacuate NOW. 

Geologists report the fissure 8 is erupting sustained fountains 200' in height, with a significant volume of very hot, fluid lava feeding a rapidly moving flow. The flow front is currently moving 600 yards per hour, heading down that blue line in the map above, leading to Kapoho. Once it reaches Kapoho and crosses the road, lower Puna is effectively isolated.....cut off. Evacuating via vehicle will be impossible. 

Meanwhile up at the summit, the volcano isn't taking a rest. Since I got up this morning there have been close to 200 earthquakes of around 2.0 magnitude or greater. A 5.3 quake happened recently that must have scared the bejeezus out of Volcano Village residents. Perhaps that got their attention enough to think about evacuating. Steam plumes are constantly coming from the Halema'uma'u vent, often laden with ash to some degree or other. Repetitive rockfalls have enlarged the vent considerably, plus the caldera floor has dropped several feet. ......... We are waiting for the second shoe to drop. 

I'm attending an informational meeting tonight in Pahala. I'm hoping the summit doesn't blow it's top tonight. I feel like I'm playing Russian roulette. How many times can I drive by or close before it blows? Unless I have to go the Pahala to pick up a prescription from the drugstore, I think this may be my last drive that direction. 

Lava Q & A

Here's some of the questions I'm getting about the lava eruption........

... Why aren't people doing something to protect their homes? 
           In reality, there is nothing they can do. 

... Would spraying the house with fire retardants or foams save them? 
          No. The lava presses right up against the house structure, igniting it. It would have little difficulty pressing right past a barrier. Also, it's intense heat alone has caused fire to start before the lava actually touched the structure. Fire aside, the lava is essentially an unyielding force. Even without burning the structure, the weight and force of the lava field could destroy it or cover it. 

... Why don't people bulldozer a dike or moat around their homes to channel the lava around them? 
           It's been tried but it doesn't work in the long run. A dike would need to be solid enough and high enough plus be built at a 45° angle to the flow. That's just about impossible. Making it solid enough would require lots of material which is not readily available. Plus it would takes days of bulldoze work to construct and compact such a dike. Plus, you don't know in advance from what angle the lava will be approaching your property, so getting the 45° angle would just be sheer luck. The chance of it being made high enough is practically nil. 
          Building a moat has its own challenges. Most areas have solid, though fractured, lava under the top layer of ground. It's our own substitute for bedrock. So a bulldozer can only scrape away so much before it hits solid lava. Thus only a shallow moat could be bulldozed in most cases. 
          Lava does not flow like water. While it generally flows downhill, it is capable of actually climbing uphill. This happens because of the way the surface of lava cools and solidifies, plus fresh lava pushing on from behind. The fresh lava often moves and lifts the cooled crust, thus causing the lava front to rise dramatically in elevation and "climb" obstacles. On top of that, while some lava flows may only be a couple feet thick, others can easily be 20' thick! So you'd have to have an incredibly high dike or deep moat for it to have any hope of being effective. In experiments that the government here has done in the past, lava flows easily crossed fairly high dikes, especially those built perpendicular to the flow. 

... Why aren't people evacuating the area? 
          Most people close to the eruption have indeed evacuated. Some have chosen to stay because they fear losing everything to looters. Historically, Hawaii officials have done an abysmal job when it comes to controlling looting. Homeowners have returned to empty houses where even the sinks, toilets, and copper pipes were taken! Even with this eruption situation, where supposedly the police and National Guard are protecting the area, looters have been ransacking some of the houses where there are no neighbor's keeping guard. A couple of them have been arrested, but most are evading the police. 

... What happens when the lava cuts off the escape road? 
          Simple -- people and animals get trapped. Some people will chose to ride it out until the lava gets real close rather than safely evacuating. There have already been cases where people have called for evacuation. In some cases, people can walk out via routes that cars cannot get across. In other cases, the Marines are on standby to conduct heliocopter evacuations, but lack of landing sites plus ashy smoke might interfere. I am guessing that small animals may be evacuated along with their owners, but that will not be possible for large animals who will have to be left behind to a horrifying fate. 

... How long will this go on? 
          Nobody knows. It could last a few more days, weeks, months. Or years. Pu'u O'o erupted lava for 25 years, with just a few breaks in the action here and there. This could become the new replacement for Pu'u O'o. 

... Why don't they just bulldoze the lava away? 
           First of all, the lava is too hot to get near. It's over 2000°. I've personally been within 10 feet of a shallow, small pahoehoe flow.....very small slow flow.....and it was bearable only for less than a half a minute. All the hair got singed in my arms and legs even with that very brief exposure. 
           This lava that's erupting is hotter than what I experienced. Plus it is a far greater volume. My lava flow was about a foot or two in height. The lava in Puna is many, many feet thick. The sheer volume of molten rock is staggering. 
           A bulldozer could not possibly push molten lava aside. The metal of the dozer would become red hot, plus the paint, hydraulic fluid, lubricants, and fuel would burn along with any non-metal parts. The operator would be overcome by the fumes and heat. So there is zero chance of bulldozing flowing lava. 

... Why don't they dynamite the front of a lava flow to stop it? 
          It won't help. In the past they tried dropping bombs in a flow to stop it or change its route. Didn't work. 

... Why don't they pump ocean water onto the flow like they did in Iceland? 
          First of all, it's not close enough to the ocean. Secondly, the coastline is too dangerousness to bring a firefighting boat in close enough to shoot water inland. Third, the lava field is immense. There is more than one flowing front. It would take a fleet of boats, which are not available. Plus the lava fields are mostly inland. Four, the fumes coming off the lava eruption could overcome those on the boats, depending upon how the wind shifts.  Right now it's blowing right out to the coast. Five, there's nothing in the lava's path along the coastline that is valuable enough to justify the expense and jeopardize the lives of those on the boats. And six, it won't do anything to stop more lava from coming out of the ground. 

...Wouldn't  the a good rainstorm stop the lava? 
           Simple answer, no. Raining on this lava is like spitting into the ocean. It won't make a bit of difference. Rain just results in more steam driven clouds of noxious gas. The lava is erupting out of the ground from the massive pressure behind it. Cooling the surface with a bit of rain (or ocean water) won't do anything to combat the incredible underground pressure that's driving the flows. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Cleaning Ash From Our Solar Panels

Ash is accumulating on the solar panels. This ash from the volcano tends to be sticky once it is moistened. So removing it requires more than just a hose. Aside from the growing things on the farm (both plants and animals), the ash also is causing problems with our solar electric generation. Laying atop the panels, the fine layer of ash is interfering with generating electricity by blocking the sunlght and thus we're not getting our batteries properly charged. Being totally off grid and not wishing to run the generator all the time with the price of gasoline being $3.80 a gallon, getting those solar panels cleaned is a high priority.!!!

Initially we were hosing them off twice a day. This removed some of the ash, but we noticed it gradually building up. Soon it became obvious there was a problem. If I used a rag and I could reach a 3 foot wide area around the border of the solar panel set up, but couldn't reach further. A better solution was needed. Someone suggested a pressure washer. Good idea but we can't run one without buying a bigger water pump. Our water system uses a dc marine pump, too small to supply the necessary water volume for a pressure washer. So I was looking around for a different solution. I rag on a stick might not be a good idea, because if the stick poked through the rag it would damage the solar panels. 

I thought of a car washing brush, the kind that runs water through it. Might do the job nicely and quickly. A good friend of ours lent me theirs. So far, so good. If it works well, I plan to order one. I already tried our two local hardware stores and auto store, but no luck. So I'll need to look further afield.

Setting things up was easy. Attach hose, turn in water. Watering the panels down and rinsing off what ash I could, I then sloshed on a couple buckets of soapy water, just for good measure. Now it's time for the hose/brush. 

Quickly I learned that I needed a step stool. The brush with hose attached was heavy and awkward to use from the ground. I retrieved the stepstool from the kitchen. Too short. Replaced that with a step-ladder. Ok, I'm in business now I thought. 

Using the hose/brush, I quickly learned a few things....
...It's heavy. The brush and pole are light but add water and the weight piles on. 
...It's very awkward to use while balanced atop a ladder. It's a bear when reaching the center of the panel leverage, really difficult to steer. 
...Once the panels are wet it's impossible to see where I've brushed them already. The brush seemed to work, but it was very difficult to make sure it's got the entire panel effectively. The brush needs to be at the right angle or it doesn't remove the ash. General swishing about doesn't do work. Once the panels dried, I saw that I missed about 50% of the surface. 50% removal of ash isn't good enough, especially since some parts were fairly clean and other areas still heavily coated. 
...The plastic pole isn't strong enough. This tool might be perfect for washing a car at ground level. But holding it higher above the ground appears to put more pressure on the plastic pole than it can deal with. The water on/off piece broke almost instantly, necessitating a trip to the hardware store to buy a replacement. The weight of the hose filled with water was too heavy. 

So I'm back to looking for an easy yet efficient way to clean the solar panels each day that we have ashfall. I might be looking closer to that rag-on-a-stick idea. Perhaps I just need to modify it a bit. 

Eruption Update

Hubby & I took a couple days off for the holiday, which was a nice excuse for getting a break from the vog and ash. Home again, yup we're back to dealing with the volcano. Things have escalated, as expected. 

Down in Puna, lava is still erupting from the various fissures. More lava has flowed over the ground. One flow has overrun two of the geothermal wells there. There has been much anxiety about what would happen if that occurred, but apparently nothing of out of the ordinary happened. No explosions, no gas eruptions, nothing. Just more land covered by lava. More lava is flowing in other areas, destroying more homes, at least 10 but probably more. At least one fissure has fountained very high into the air, creating Pele's hair, fine golden strands of volcanic glass. The advancing lava is forcing more residents out of their homes. 

Here's some maps that we reference in order to keep an idea of what's going on.....

Meanwhile up at the summit, things are also escalating. More earthquakes, some now in the 4 magnitude category. More frequent ash plumes. In fact, on our way out past the volcano Sunday morning, we witnessed an ash eruption. Very, very impressive. Just a small one, but still amazing. We also noticed that there are a lot more cracks in the roadway up there. 

On our approach to the volcano we passed by ash laden rain clouds hanging over Kapapala Ranch. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Disaster Everted ... SPAM

Disaster Everted in the nick of time. Memorial Day holiday saved! 

Hormel announced that none of the recalled Spam had been shipped to Hawaii. Hawaiians are safe to eat their Spam whatevers this long weekend. Whew, that was a close one.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Eruption Update

Things are still at disaster level. The count it up to 82 structures destroyed, plus several homes in jeopardy due to significant ground cracks. Over the next few days, more buildings will be taken by the lava. Other homes and farms are completely surrounded by flowing lava streams, totally isolated and cut off. Some fissures are reactiving, adding more lava to this mess. Lava flows are increasing. More acerage is getting covered. More farms are swallowed up. The SO2 gas emissions have escalated. Things overall look grim. 

Up on top the summit, things look like they may be building up to a large explosive event. Daily there are small rockfalls and steam/ash explosions. Ash drifts downwind, falling mainly in the Ka'u desert. But the light fine particles deposit light coatings from Pahala to Oceanview. Depending upon the wind at the moment, some areas intermittently have elevated vog levels. The light rains that happen off and on are ashy. 

So what happens next? Who knows. People of Puna are starting to consider the possibility that this eruption may last for weeks or months. It's too horrible to consider thinking that it could become the new eruption vent, thus lasting for years. 

How about the summit? Most people are braced for a big steam explosion. How big, we're just getting around to consider it could be a lot bigger than first thought. Some people in the Volcano area are thinking about leaving the vicinity for awhile. Others plan to ride it through. Some have already left. But right now, it's like waiting for the second shoe to drop. It's nerve wracking just waiting, thinking that you're braced for it. 

So here we sit. No one knows the future. No one knows what's the best action to take. Some try to be prepared. Others move away. Yet others feel that they can't do anything about it, so they keep living as usual. 

On this homestead, we're maintaining a bit of preparation.....we have food & protected water, medical supplies, general resources, enough gasoline to give us electricity for awhile. We should be able to weather a significant eruption without much difficulty. We're not planning to evacuate at this time. We feel that we are in a safe location. A major summit eruption would be a nuisance to this farm, but not a disaster. 

Listen. Wait. that second shoe ready to drop? 

Major Disaster Hits The Islands

Local news announced today that 228,614 pounds of Spam is being recalled. Yikes! It's Memorial Day weekend and they're saying not to eat the Spam? What will we do without our Spam musubi? Can Hawaii really have this holiday sans Spam? That's like having Thanksgiving without a turkey. Egads! 

I just finished up eating my Spam sushi roll. Good thing I didn't know about the recall. The sushi was delicious. I haven't died yet, so I guess it was ok. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

More Ash Heading Our Way

Less than ten minutes ago there was another ash explosion. I don't have details on it yet, but I saw the event captured on the webcams. So there's more ash heading toward the farm. For joy, for joy. 

By the way, over the past three hours there has been dozens of earthquakes at the summit. The largest is listed as being a 4.0. I bet that shook things up! I'm guessing they are causing the rockfalls, which ultimately may lead to the big explosive event that is being anticipated. Once enough rock plugs the throat of the volcano, the pressure will build up to the point of a massive summit eruption. 

Rainwater Diverter

With the daily ashfalls, we had to prioritize getting a way to divert the rainwater from entering our catchment tanks. On the outbuildings, we had installed the raingutters ourselves for the barn and Adam's cabin, so the system already has clean out drains in place. Simply opening the drain would stop the water from entering the catchment tanks. But the house system was installed by a gutter company, and guess what......only one drain that serviced 1/2 of one of two rooves. What the heck? Yeah, poor job. We noticed the problem too late. The company had flown the coop, so we were stuck with it. Since other things always seemed more important to take care of first, we never got around to modifying the rainwater system at the house. 

Now it was urgent that we tackle this problem. So David and I walked around the house surveying the situation. We concluded that two more drain/clean outs were needed so that all the rainwater could be diverted.  Although it would be a little difficult working in tight spaces, the job was do-able.

Next problem. No one here seems to sell a clean out or even a valve for the size pipe that we have. The gutter guy used 3" pipe. Personally I would have used 4" pipe because we sometimes get torrential rains. The 3" pipe is undersized. But since those types of rains seldom happen ( it's  only happened twice since we moved here), I'm not going to replace all the piping. It's a lot of pipe. 

So David had to finagle a clean out drain. He took a 3" T and stepped up to a 4" clean out plug. It took a few pieces. It might look awkward, but it works. 

He made two, then set about installing them. Installing was the easy part. Using a sawsall, he cut the pipe, fitted the new drain, and ....wallah! The drains are located at the lowest points in the system, so all the water in the pipes will drain out when the clean out plug is removed. 

(note- the cut off pipe in the foreground is simply an underpass for the concrete walkway. I installed pipes like these in strategic spots just in case I would want to pass something under the concrete walkway, like a hose, outdoor electrical line, water pipe, etc. That way I wouldn't have to bust up the walkway.) 

The drain can be opened whenever we want to divert the rainwater.....or when we want to wash the roof or flush out the pipes. No special ground drain had to be built since the house sits atop rock rubble over top an aa lava flow. When we tested our handiwork, the water instantly disappeared into the rock rubble. 

The only difficulty with this system comes when opening the clean out plug. There will be many pounds of forceful water wanting to rush out. So what happens, as you turn the wrench to remove the plug, on that last turn the plug will fly off and a forceful stream of water will gush out. Plug will be nowhere to be seen as it shoots away.p at high speed. To prevent that, I'll screw a short light piece of chain to the center of the plug and attach the other end to a short pipe I'll drive into the ground. So when the plug flies off, it can't escape. The chain will hold it captive. By the way, I use a 4' piece of light chain on the other clean out, which gives me plenty of leeway for unscrewing the plug. I use chain instead of rope because it's less likely to break.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Light Eruption Humor

Captured this off of Facebook yesterday. Yes, it's funny. But it's also revealing. Yes folks, the Big Island isn't being covered in lava. Most of us are doing ok. 

Kilauea Summit Explosion Photo

No, there hasn't been a second big explosion. But I came upon this really cool photo of the explosion that had occurred. Everybody is posting photos taken from the ground, but this one was taken from the observatories atop Mauna Kea. 

One of the Keck engineers captured this totally awe inspiring image. Wow! 

Ash and the Farm

Without a good daily rain ..... Oh heavens, am I really longing for rain?.....the light ash is starting to build up. Most of the plants have either a smooth waxy surface to their leaves or have leaves that droop or hang at a slant enough for a light rain to wash them off. Below shows what happens to most of the taro varieties. A light rain creates gray water droplets that build up to large drops, carrying the ash away. 

But some plants have leaves where the ash builds up because the small rain droplets get blocked from flowing off the leaf. Or they are not waxy enough to easily shed the rain. Below is an example of banana leaves. Older leaves are droop readily in rain, thus shedding their ash. Younger leaves are more vertical or horizontal. The whitish grey ash gets caught along the little leaf ridges. I suspect that a  good rain should wash this away. 

Many of my veggie plants have horizontal leaves. Not all veggies, but several. The ash is tending to build up on them and become noticeable. Once the ash has been wet by a light rain, it seems to become plastered to the leaves. I tried hosing the ash deposit off, but most still adheres to the leaves. 

I'm not sure how this will damage the plants, but I can say that it will definitely interfere with photosynthesis. The ash is blocking the sunlight. Plants will grow slower. Thus the plant will be smaller. In turn, the crop will be significantly diminished. Not the sort of news I'm happy about. 

I'm also noticing that the ash is difficult to remove from leaves I wish to eat. Washing the mamaki leaves was more challenging. Getting the ash off the fresh greens, like those sweet potato leaves above, takes more time and effort. 

With the ash sticking to things, I'm more concerned about my livestock. None of the sheep are pregnant right now, but two of the dairy goats might be. So I'm out to purchase hay and haycubes this week for the goats. I'll try to entice them away from eating the ashy browse, 

Volcano Update

Once again we awoke to the smell of sulfur outdoors. Plus the air is as still as a dead cow, so it will be a half hour or so before the sun warms the morning breeze and moves the sulfur out. So I suppose we sit still and suffer the sulfur in soothing silence. (Wow, after all these years I still remember what alliteration is from my high school days!) 

The volcano continues on as it has been. Fissures erupting. Lava flows. Noxious gas. Earthquakes from time to time. New ground cracks. The summit having ashy emissions due to small rockfalls. People suffering the woes of an eruption. Nothing new, just the same old misery. 

 On the farm I am seeing daily ashfalls. Small ash coverings, just enough to be noticeable. I've also been getting a light smattering of rain, the kind that plasters the ash to everything but doesn't really easily wash it off. Just lovely, drats. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

New Piglets

I thought my pig raising days were over. Wrong. These two little guys showed up needing a home. Since I still had the set up for piglets and Adam was interested in playing with piglets again, I opened the farm to two new additions. They're about 9 weeks old. One boy. One girl. The black one is the boy and he's been named Lava. The spotted one is the girl. Adam decided to call her Shelly, short for shelly pahoehoe lava, a type a lava found around the Pu'u O'o vent. When you try to walk in it you leave deep black holes behind. 

They're wild as all heck, but I don't suspect it will take Adam long to tame them down. Adam has learned the power of food when it comes to an animal. Within just a couple days the piglets are coming out of hiding when we "peeeeg, peeeeg, peeeeg". And they will allow us to watch them eat as long as we don't move or talk. That will change after a few more days. 

So what's in that food pan? Yummy food. Milk. Dog food kibbles. Tomatoes. Bananas. Papaya. Scrambled eggs. Cooked rice. Cooked potatoes. A couple of slices of cheese. Every day it will be different. I like to expose them to variety when they are babies so that they will flexible as adults. I don't use commercial pig chow, so they need to eat what the farm produces. They're already nibbling grass too. Good piggies! 

More Ash

Awoke yet again to the fresh smell of volcano in the air. Checking the vehicles and solar panels, it's evident that there was another summit explosion. Yup........8 pm and 3:45 am. Two! 

Looks like this morning's job will be to mop down the solar panels. Just hosing them off doesn't work. Now I'm really thankful that the panels are ground mounted, as opposed to being atop the roof. I surely don't want to be up on a roof stretching to reach panels with a mop! 

This is a good trial for to maintain clean panels in the future. Our plan called for eventually installing the panels atop the future carport. We will mostly likely still do that but the mounting pattern may be different. Plus importantly, a catwalk will need to be added to the construction so that it will be safe and easy to reach the panels for cleaning. In all the photos I see in books and magazines, no consideration is given to cieaning the panels other than with a hose from long distance. That won't work here with this fine volcanic ash. So we need to come up with a better idea. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Excessive Sphagnum Moss

I'm seeing an explosion in the spaghnum moss growing around the farm. I'm not sure if it's influenced by the constant moisture or the more acidic rain. But the day & night temperatures are conducive for mosses and molds right now, and I'm seeing plenty of both. Out mowing the grass in an area where I've seen small patches of spaghnum moss before, I was surprised to discover that this moss had grown to cover the entire area around the base of the grasses. It was section of pasture about 100' by 150'. 

There's actually enough moss to consider harvesting it. But I'm not sure what to use it for other than mulch or a compost ingredient. And I don't know how this moss will effect the pasture grasses. Should I leave it or take it up? For now I guess I'll leave it and see what Mother Nature does. 

Lava Map Update

Ocean Entry

Here's a USGS photo showing the two lava flows entering the ocean. Quite spectacular. 

Volcano Update

Awoke to the smell of sulfur this morning. Inside the house is generally fine. We had everything shut up all yesterday and last night. But one step outside early this morning to walk the puppy, and yuk. Definitely volcano smell. Checking the truck car windshield, there's a very light dusting of ash, barely noticeable. Perhaps the light rain during the night helped with that. 

Morning routine now includes checking on the local volcano news. Internet news, civil defense alerts, HVO updates, Facebook, forums, text messages. News flies nowadays. The eruption down in Puna is still going. The lava flow across the coastal road is now a 20' high hot blockade. For those of you who have suggested using a big bulldozer to push the lava off the roadway, be advised that it's around 2000° and still flowing. Get within 6' of it and it singes the hair right off your body. I can tell you that from personal experience! So, how long before that dozer gas tank explodes? 

That black wall beyond the people is the lava flow. 

One of the lava flows is disappearing down a ground crack. Where's it going, we ask? Deep down into the unknown void. 

HVO reports that the SO2 gas coming from the Puna rift has tripled. Bad news for anyone who likes to breath. Consequences of this, the Kona coast has foul air. We went up to Kainaliu yesterday to take in a play at the Aloha Theater. The drive up was nasty enough. The drive back was worse. Visibility greatly reduced. No beautiful scenic coastal views. Air quality poor. Kept the car air conditioner on recirculate the entire time, something  we never have to do as a habit before. Woke up this morning with a bit of a cough, touch of a sore throat and sore nose.......the effects of Kona exposure. Surprisingly, Kainaliu area is 45 miles further away from the volcano but it suffers worse due to the air currents. 

Checking the HVO website, I saw that there was another summit explosion at 1 am. A 10,000 footer. Thus the sulfur smell. 

This volcano is still rocking and rolling. Everyone is asking, when will it stop? Tomorrow. Next week. Next month. A year from now. Decades from now. Each one of those answers could be the correct one. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lava Has Reached the Ocean

As expected, the lava flow has cut across the coastal road and is now flowing into the ocean. 

Shane Turpin got a beautiful photo of the lava last night.

Luckily most of the route travelled by this lava flow went through non-inhabited forest land. But there are still difficulties because the only road through this area is now cut. Hawaii island is not noted for multiple access roads. Often there's just one. Yes, not good planning as compared to mainland ideas, but we live with it. Of course when it comes to lava, it would have taken out the whole sheebang. 

With an ocean entry there comes another danger to deal with, laze. Downwind of the entry the air is not only noxious but also contains extremely fine glass particles. Not nice. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Eruption Turning Aggressive

Things have certainly escalated. Braided red lava flows are merging to create a faster moving lava channel. Lava is expected to cross the coastal road tonight, cutting off easy egress for residents who haven't as yet evacuated. Right now the fastest flow is crossing uninhabited lands, but it won't be long before it reaches residential properties. Sadly, more people may be losing their homes, possessions, and maybe even livelihoods as it destroys farms and houses tonight. 

Above. The red shows the estimated location of the lava as of about noon today. The violet line shows the extent as of 2 pm. 

Saturday Morning Update

Lots of new updates as of this Saturday morning. 

1- HVO scientists announced that the latest lava samples taken from the erupting fissures indicate that new lava from Pu'u O'o has definitely reached Leilani Estates. Prior to this, the erupting lava had been the leftover lava stored underground from the 1955 eruption. How can they tell? The composition is different and matches samples from Pu'u O'o. 

Why is this significant? The new lava is more "fluid". Thus it flows more readily and will create lava flows. Plus more volume will be emitted and possibly at a greater frequency. Summed up, it's means a bigger eruption. 

2- At 11:58 pm last night there was another explosion at Kilaeua summit. Plenty of ash was ejected. We woke up to the smell of the volcano plus a fine dusting of ash on the cars, solar panels, and roof. Ah-ha, time to bring out the hose and wash off the ash. The dusting was just barely enough to write on the car windshield. 

3- Drove over to Pahala this morning for a pharmacy run. Whoa, Pahala got a noticeable ashfall. Everything had a fine coating of grayish white dust, most evident on rooves and car windshield. The wind was kicking up little white clouds here and there. Cars driving by sometimes had little whitish clouds behind them. Yup, they got hit last night for sure. 

4- The County paved the coastal beach road so that it could serve as an evacuation route. For years the locals have resisted paving it, but suddenly everyone's objections have taken a back seat. Beach Road very well may be a last escape road for hundreds of residents, and quite soon too. 

5- The gps instrument indicated this morning that it is no longer moving. Until this morning, the readings indicated constant ground movement as magma moved into the eruption area. Now it's still. What does that mean? I don't know. 

6- Yesterday four people got trapped by fresh lava flows and requested rescue. They were airlifted out via helicopter. They apparently returned to their home to pick up possessions but got trapped when lava flowed across the road. They called 911. All are safe but the car had to be abandoned. 

Above, the latest map but it isn't up to date. Much has happened overnight. 

7- More ground cracks were discovered in the eruption area of Puna. 

8- Four more homes were destroyed. 

9- The eruption has dramatically increased. The individual fissures are joining into a continuous line of spattering. A significant lava flow had developed which has channeled lava flowing down its center, the lava flow has increased expansion to 300 yards per hour. The night sky is lit up red. Beautiful to see but scary to know why. 

Photo by Paradise Helicopters

Friday, May 18, 2018

Noon Eruption Report

Fissure #22 has opened amid the long string of fissures right stop the rift. Now there are several fissures erupting lava at various degrees. 

Guess what? Adam made it down and out to the eruption! Adam is our wwoofer. He has been wanting to see the eruption up front and personal since it started, and has been down in Leilani several times helping the residents. But until now he has had no opportunity to sneak out for a peek. Finally he got a chance. Today he is still full of awe, having been right there. I can appreciate his feelings, because even though it was several years ago, my own personal encounters with a fresh eruption still gives me goosebumps and a sense of awe. 

Adam gifted me a piece of fresh lava from fissure #17. Absolutely incredible. 


3:30 pm Update from Big Island Video News ------

(BIVN) – The volcanic fissure system that stretches across Leilani Estates increased in activity overnight, and this morning scientists began categorizing it as a “moderate-level” eruption of lava along the lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea.

“Huge eruptions are happening at fissures below Leilani Estates!” wrote Mick Kalber, as he filed his video report from above the activity in a helicopter. “Two gigantic pahoehoe outbreaks are emanating from Fissures 16 and 17, and a towering high fountain eruption is blasting skyward at Fissure 17. The lava is spreading in various directions, but hasn’t gone too far yet. Highway 132 is still safe, at least for the time being. Much of the lava generated is pooling on top of the previous flows or to the south-southeast. Another sizable outbreak and small fountain is effusing hot rock from Fissure 18 in Lani Puna Gardens. The outbreak on Hookupu at the bottom of Leilani Estates is still active, spitting a bit, but has largely subsided. Nothing appears active above Hookupu.”

Above, the pahoehoe lava flow on the right and the geothermal electric plant on the left. 

Kilauea Summit Changes

Saw this on the HVO website today. It clearing shows how the summit is changing. The Halema'uma'u vent has tripled in its opening size, plus a large area adjacent to the vent has slumped. That's a lot of rock falling into the throat. To a novice like myself, it surely appears that Kilauea is building up to a major collapse. On top of this, the entire crate floor has dropped about 3 feet. So I ask, where has all that lava drained to? 

News Media Does It Again

What's this fixation with kitchen appliances and Kilauea summit? Just clipped this one from NBC this morning.....

It use to be that size was compared to a shoebox, a breadbox, an icebox. They're all passé now. Kids today wouldn't be able to relate. So I guess the media has turned to kitchen appliances. I find it to be really funny that lava boulders are all described as refrigerators and microwaves....especially when they might be spewing out the vent!!!! I just drove by the summit yesterday and I didn't see even one kitchen appliance. Just a fine film of ash. I'm soooooo disappointed! 

On the other hand, give NBC news some credit. Somebody on their staff actually did some research into volcanoes, but they need a bit of improvement. In the article Kilauea is labeled a "so-called shield volcano". Did the author believe that the volcanologists are wrong in calling Kilauea a shield volcano? Don't know, but I'd like to inform the reporter that Kilauea really IS a shield volcano , for real!!!!!!! Dear NBC, please be informed that people here actually live on a shield volcano and that it isn't expected to spew kitchen appliances. Mahalo. Have a nice day. 

And here's a goody from USA Today.....

Oh really? This reporter hasn't a clue. The article went to say that the lava needed to be removed from the road surfaces while it was still hot so that it could be easier to remove. Huh? ......rolling my eyes....... And said something about removing the lava back to the level of the topsoil. Topsoil? Surely not in Puna! This reporter needs to do homework before writing about our volcano and area. We're not talking about removing mud after a flood, or snow after a blizzard. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Just Back From Hilo

Had to run to Hilo today, and that means driving right by Kilauea summit. Needless to say, we survived. We got up early today, not sure if we would have to take the long way to Hilo. But we were assured that the road was open, so we went for it. Here's how it went, from your reporter on the scene. Yeehah, that's me! .........

...20 miles from the summit (mile #46) we passed under a high, very dark, large cloud. Looked somewhat like a dark thunderstorm cloud, but this one was a mix of ash and rain. Yup, it was raining through the Ka'u desert, not an unusual situation though. But this time fine ash was mixed in with the rain. Not much, but you could see it as slightly milky water being swept away by the windshield wipers. The roadway shoulders had a whitish look to them due to a fine covering of ash. 
...5 miles later I'm looking for the volcanic plume. Tough to differentiate from the rain clouds. Still getting ash mixed in with the rain.
...10 miles from the summit I can make out the white steam plume from the volcano rising into the air. Gee, nothing exciting. I've been watching a white steam plume for years and years. Still seeing light ash on the windshield. 
...3 miles from the summit (mile #29) we come upon the cracks in the road. Pretty impressive. There are dozens of them crossing this way and that across the paved roadway. Very noticeable. We couldn't stop (signs asked drivers to continue stopping) to measure the cracks but they looked to be 1/2" to 1" wide. There were cracks all the way to the park entrance at mile #26. And no ash. No ash on the roadway, none on the windshield. A slight volcanic smell to the air. 
...All seemed as usual until mile #15, Mountainview. We encountered the worst vog we've ever seen and it went on for several miles. Even with the car air conditioner on recirculation, we could smell and taste the vog. 
...By the time we reached Keaau, we were past the vog belt. Whew. Made it. Our day in Hilo was uneventful. Little vog. No felt earthquakes. 
...Going back home we didn't hit the vog belt until well past Mountainview. It had shifted to Glenwood area and then thinned out by the time we reached Volcano village, but it was still noticeable up there. Volcano area didn't seem bad at all, so we decided to stop for dinner. Ya know, you wouldn't think we were only two miles from an explosive summit that was snorting and fuming. Business was going on as usual. Restaurant was open and full of customers. General store open and doing business. What volcano? What explosion? You wouldn't have guessed if you didn't already know. Plus we didn't feel any earthquakes during dinner. 
...the rest of the trip home was uneventful except that we stopped at the community center to pick up two dust masks. They are being distributed free. 3M donated them. Thank you, 3M. For right now the masks are limited to one per person so that everyone will get the opportunity to have at least one mask. I'm told that depending upon supplies, more may be available in the future. 

All in all, life goes on. Most people are dealing with it. Yes, I'm told that there are lots of tears and stress down in Puna, but elsewhere folks are taking steps to deal with the difficulties as they arise .....
.....vog? Don't work strenuously outdoors. Close up the house and go indoors. I'm hearing that people dealing with strong indoor vog are using homemade vog eliminators in their homes --- a towel soaked in a concentrated baking soda solution draped over a fan. 
.....ash? Protect items that could be damaged, such as electronics and motors. Plan on changing filters. Prevent ash from entering catchment tanks. Rinse ash off of cars, topside and under. Protect solar systems. 
.....summit explosion? Protect items that could be within range. An explosion could cause a hail of small lava pebbles (marble size and smaller) in Volcano village. I can remember what hailstorms did in New Jersey. During summer thunderstorm season we'd park the cars under protection so that they didn't get pocked by the hail. Nothing we could do to protect the gardens, so some years they got damaged. But at least the vehicles got protected. 
Down Puna way, fissure #21 opened up right along with the rest of the string. Several fissures are erupting, but the activity in low key as compared to a couple of days ago. Still lots of noise, lots of degassing, lots of ground tremors. Not much in the way of lava flows. The ground is still deforming, indicating more magma entering the region. Guess the eruption isn't slowing down yet. 

USGS photo---

Up at the summit, things have been fairly quiet. Lots of steam. Some ash clouds. Continuing earthquakes. Activity hasn't slowed down here either. 
uSGS photo---

Summit Explosive Event !

About 15 minutes ago I spied a rock hurling explosion via the summit cameras. (See ps comment below)

Almost as quickly as the event happened, my cellphone was bombarded with text messages. Yikes! Is everyone checking the website at about the same time, or did an alert go out via cellphones? 

I'm looking around, but I don't see any kitchen appliances yet. Disappointed 😞

ps -- FYI the dark marks aren't rocks hurling out of the crater. I've been watching the webcam for the past hour and the splotches never change but the cloud rising from the crate does. Thus I am assuming that the eruption sent wet ash that landed in the camera "lens" and stuck there. 

The latest HVO report says that the eruption happened about 4:15 this morning. 

BBC : Kitchen Appliance Sized Ejecta !

Woke up this morning to check on the volcano status. Nothing new at this time. Guess I'm too early. So I browsed the news before going to check my email, then make coffee. Me thinks that the BBC reporters got their information from the paper who was reporting "frig-sized refrigerators" boulders. Of course, perhaps BBC was including toasters and toaster ovens as kitchen appliances. In that case, then BBC is correct to report boulders the size of kitchen appliances being spewed out. My apologies. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Kilauea Summit

This morning there were more earthquakes at the summit, and this time they have done some damage to buildings and roads. With no lava in the throat of Halema'uma'u, rockfalls are continuing as the walls start to crumble. The earthquakes seem to be helping that along since Halema'uma'u has lost its lava support. 

For now, the road is useable. I'm hoping it will be passable all day tomorrow because I need to go to Hilo.  If not, then I'll have to drive the long way around the island across Saddle Road. We shall see how this develops.