Wednesday, May 16, 2018

And So It Continues

We're up to 21 fissures so far. This volcano isn't showing signs of stopping yet. But really, the eruption hasn't destroyed nearly as much land and structures as some of the past eruptions. Regretfully the news media is making this out to be a much bigger event than it is to date. Not that it isn't a disaster for the people living in that area. It surely is! But mainland people get the impression that vast areas are affected. It's not. The lava eruption is occurring in a fairly rural area on one corner of one Hawaiian island. And the ash eruption at Kilauea summit is not the rock spewing, boulders rolling down the mountain type of situation that sensational news is implying. And we're not all in jeopardy of dying from toxic gas. 

How do I know that mainland people are getting the wrong idea? First of all, businesses are reporting around 30% cancellations of people's Hawaiian vacations. How sad that these folks are going to miss out in their tropical vacations. Seeing and experiencing this island is magical. There is so much more here than just Volcanoes National Park. Besides, there are other sleeping volcanoes to visit, vast lava fields to see and hike that are no where near the eruption. 

I've been fielding lots of questions and advice that also show the misleading information being presented by sensational plying news.....
... "Be sure to shovel the ash off your roof. Don't let it build up." Well meaning advice, but even today with the big ash plumes we are not seeing much ash at all. A dustmop would be more appropriate than a shovel. Of course this situation could change in the future, but that big ash cloud being shown on national TV isn't really doing much because it is quite far away from residential areas. The vast majority of the ash falls in the Ka'u desert. 
Above, USGS photo showing ash falling in the Ka'u desert immediately downwind of Kilauea summit. This area is normally blackish exposed old lava with interspersed desert vegetation.)

I tried taking photos of ash atop people's cars but it's so fine and light that I couldn't get it to show up. I suspect that Pahala or Punalu'u are getting the worst of the ash, but I haven't been over there to check.

... "I hear the people there aren't buying the right kind of gas masks. Do you want me to find two and send them to you?" Thanks, but no need. While breathing a bit of vog can be annoying, we've already been doing it for decades. And most people know to go indoors until the bad vog blows away. On our farm we seldom see bad vog and so far, only at night. We simply close the windows and doors before going to bed. People living in the vog path take precautions like they have been doing for years now. People in the past lived through summit eruptions. Guess we can too. 
    Because I do sone heavy work outdoors, I have decided to use a dust mask when I mow grass. I've suggested to Adam that he may wish to suspend his running (he likes to run for miles on a regular basis) until the ash eruptions cease. 

... "You say you're on the slope of the volcano. Are you in the path of the boulders?" No. First of all. Any boulders that will be ejected will land in the vicinity of Kilaeua crater. The crater is several miles across and boulders are not expected to fly that far. Second, we are 40-45 miles away from the summit. That's a long distance for a boulder to roll. Finally, Kilaeua does not have a significant slope. It a gentle, flattish volcano. Surely not a Mt. Fuji. Yes, the summit is at 4000' elevation, but it rises over the course of 25-30 miles. Yes, it is a long, gentle rolling boulders. 

..."Why aren't you evacuating?" Because we are not in danger. We are safe in the farm from this particular eruption. 

An eruption is an amazing event. In the past the Volcanoes National Park and the County of Hawaii did not prevent people from witnessing it firsthand. Yes, it has an element of danger. But people were willing to take the risk in order to experience the natural wonder. Today the public is generally stupid and not willing to assume liability for their own actions and decisions. Thus I can see why the park and county are not allowing people to the eruption vicinity. We now live in an insanely litigation oriented society. How sad, because people now miss out on the amazing experience of a volcanic eruption firsthand. Only the residents of Puna who have refused to evacuate are getting the opportunity to experience this natural wonder up close and personal. Yes, there are videos to watch. But nothing beats being there in person. 

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