Volcano Erupts on Hawaii’s Big Island, Residents Asked to Stay Inside

In this photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, lava flows within the Halema’uma’u crater of the Kilauea volcano Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has erupted, the U.S. Geological Survey said. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)
U.S. Geological Survey via AP

Residents on Hawaii’s Big Island were asked to stay indoors when the Kilauea volcano erupted Sunday during an explosion that shot ash into the sky.

The explosion happened at the Halemaumau Crater following several weak earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and a 4.4 magnitude earthquake came shortly after the eruption, NBC News reported.

“The agency added that significant damage to buildings or structures was not expected,” the article read, adding that lava at the crater was contained and no injuries or deaths have so far been reported.

USGS shared photos and videos of the eruption on its Twitter feed Monday morning:

The magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck about one hour following the volcano’s eruption and the USGS said it received over 500 reports of residents who felt the quake, according to the Associated Press (AP):

Kilauea erupted in 2018, destroying more than 700 homes and spewing enough lava to fill 320,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. An area more than half the size of Manhattan was buried in up to 80 feet (24 meters) of now-hardened lava. The lava flowed over the course of four months.

Sunday night, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said ash from the eruption would most likely fall in the Pahala, Wood Valley, Naalehu, and Ocean View communities.

“Low level trade winds will push any embedded ash toward the southwest, and any ash fallout will likely occur over the Kau district and highway 11 southwest of the town of Volcano,” the agency’s post stated.

“Avoid excessive exposure to ash which is an eye and respiratory irritant. Those with respiratory sensitivities should take extra precaution to minimize exposure,” it continued.

However, the ash advisory for Hawaii Island expired Monday at 2:00 a.m., according to Hawaii News Now.

“Scientists analyzed data and said it appeared that the plume from the eruption was mostly steam, and not filled with other ash and debris,” the report said.

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