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---

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