LavaTalk: September 21, 2014 update on Kilauea’s lava flow

Aerial overview of the Kilauea June 27 Lava Flow (9/20/14)
Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7, Air transportation by Paradise Helicopters

Puna brushfire sparked by June 27 lava flow. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7, Air Transportation by Paradise Helicopters

Hawaii County Civil Defense Eruption Audio Update for 8 a.m. September 21, 2014

Hawaii County Civil Defense Eruption and Lava Flow Information Update for Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 8 a.m.

This morning’s assessment shows the surface lava flow has slowed considerably and has advanced approximately 75 yards since yesterday. No evacuation is needed at this time and area residents will be given adequate notice to safely evacuate should that be necessary.

The current lava flow had moved into lighter vegetation yesterday and had started a brush fire in a remote area above Apa’a Road to the west or mauka of Highway 130. No structures or properties are threatened. The Hawaii Fire Department and the Department of Public Works are working to contain the fire area and to prevent any threat to neighboring communities. This morning there was very little fire activity with several hotspots within the perimeter.

Smoke conditions were moderate to heavy and due to a light south wind; the smoke was being dispersed across the Puna and Hilo areas. Smoke conditions are expected to improve with the increase in trade winds later today.

Construction activities on the Railroad Avenue and Government Beach Road are continuing.

Once again, the public is reminded that the flow cannot be accessed and is not visible from any public areas. Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision remains restricted and limited to subdivision residents only.

USGS/Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Kilauea Status Update for 9:31 a.m. Sunday, September 21, 2014

June 27th Lava Flow Observations: The June 27th lava flow remains active, with reduced activity at the flow front. A Civil Defense overflight this morning observed that the flow front has advanced only a minor amount over the past day. The flow front advanced no more than 75 yards (roughly 70 meters) between Civil Defense overflights yesterday morning and this morning. This drop in advance rate over the past two days may be due to a reduction in lava supply related to ongoing summit deflation – if so, the flow advance rate could rise again in the coming days as the summit resumes inflation.

The flow front this morning was 16.4 km (10.2 miles) from the vent, measured in a straight line. The actual length of the flow, measured along the lava tube axis (so that bends in the flow are considered) was 18.7 km (11.6 miles). The flow front this morning was 2.3 km (1.4 miles) upslope from Apa`a St. Active portions of the flow are still in thick forest, creating smoke plumes as lava engulfs trees and other vegetation. A brush fire yesterday afternoon was triggered by the flow in the broad open ground North of the flow front – Civil Defense reports this morning that the fire is being contained and very little fire activity was observed this morning.

Small breakouts also remain active closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō, roughly midway along the length of the June 27th flow. None of these breakouts have been very vigorous recently. Some of these breakouts are also producing smoke plumes as they creep into the adjacent forest.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: There was little net change in tilt at Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past day. Glow was visible overnight above several outgassing openings in the crater floor. Aerial views this week observed hot openings in several of the pits but no obvious lava ponds. The Northeast pit, which has hosted a lava pond for several months, was crusted over with only a small incandescent opening. The most recent sulfur-dioxide emission-rate measurement for the East Rift Zone was 400 tonnes per day (from all sources) on September 2, 2014.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi has announced work will begin Monday (Sept 22) on Chain of Craters Road as another alternate route for Lower Puna.

Next Community Meeting Thursday (Sept 25), Lava Flow Information Center Open

The next lava flow community update meeting will be held with representatives from Hawai‘i County Civil Defense and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Thursday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pāhoa High School Cafeteria.

In addition, the County of Hawai‘i has established an Incident Command Center and Informational Resource Center at the Pāhoa Community Center. Residents are invited to the information center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday next week for answers to their questions.

For the latest Civil Defense message, go to…. For more information, contact Hawai‘i County Civil Defense at (808) 935-0031.​

Alternate routes for Lower Puna displayed at the Lava Flow Informational Fair Saturday (Sept 13) in Pahoa. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Alternate routes for Lower Puna displayed at the Lava Flow Informational Fair Saturday (Sept 13) in Pahoa. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Hawaii County Mass Transit proposed routes. Displayed at the Lava Flow Informational Fair Saturday (Sept 13).

Hawaii County Mass Transit proposed routes. Displayed at the Lava Flow Informational Fair Saturday (Sept 13).

View Alternate Routes In/Out of Lower Puna in a larger map
Potential evacuation routes/alternative roads DPW, DLNR and DOT are looking at. NOTE: Routes in Pink are aproximate drawings from a County map presented. Railroad Avenue and Beach Road are existing but would need to be improved.

Information Graphics by Dr. Mark Kimura, UH-Hilo


The American Lung Association in Hawaii warns visitors and people living near the lava flow in Puna to take precautions against smoke exposure from burning vegetation and low levels of sulfur dioxide.

This smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles released as vegetation burns. In addition to burning your eyes, these fine particles and gases can be inhaled deeply into your lungs, making it harder to breathe.

Exposure can worsen other chronic health conditions such as asthma or heart disease.

Exposure to sulfur dioxide, a gas emitted by volcanoes, can also be harmful, burning the nose and throat and causing breathing difficulties.

Residents with respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and also those with chronic heart disease should take extra precautions during this time and call their physician immediately if problems develop.

“Even those without lung diseases may be at risk during this time,” said Kim Nguyen, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Hawaii. “With exposure to smoke, there is an increased risk of dangerous health effects ranging from respiratory tract irritation to more serious illness, including reduced lung function, bronchitis, worsening of asthma, and premature death. This is especially true for children, older adults and outdoor workers.”

People living near affected areas are encouraged to do the following:

  • Stay inside as much as possible, with doors and windows shut. Make sure only clean air circulates through air conditioners and/or air cleaners by using the recirculation setting.
  • When driving through smoky areas, car windows and vents should be kept closed. Air conditioning should be set to “recirculate” to avoid exposure to unhealthy outside air.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors, particularly if you smell smoke or experience eye or throat irritation.
  • Individuals with asthma are encouraged to contact their physician regarding any changes in medication they may need to cope with smoky conditions. The American Lung Association advises asthma patients who cannot reach their doctor to continue to take their medication and closely follow their asthma action plan as prescribed.

If you have questions, you can call the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNG-USA (choose option #2) to speak to a lung health expert.

For more information about the American Lung Association in Hawaii or to support the work it does, call (808) 537-5966 or visit


Unpredictable lava flows remind us that upfront planning now can ease stressful situations should there be a need to evacuate. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The Hawaii Island Humane Society has a few tips to help keep animals safe in the event of an evacuation:

HIHS encourages all pet owners to be safe and prepared. If you are advised to evacuate, please consider your pet’s safety. Do not leave animals behind.

Develop a plan for their ongoing care including transportation arrangements.

Larger animals including horses and livestock may need to be moved well in advance. Call friends or family members to locate alternate pastures.

Gather items for your pet’s emergency kit –

  • Crate
  • Leash
  • Food
  • Water
  • Towel
  • Identification
  • Medication (if applicable)

If you evacuate, arrive at your destination prepared with your pet’s emergency kit and take your pets!

The mission of the Hawaii Island Humane Society is to promote respect for all animals, prevent cruelty to animals, eliminate pet overpopulation, and enhance the bond between humans and animals. HIHS holds a contract with the County of Hawaii to enforce certain animal-related laws and it offers 24-hour service for injured animals and other animal emergencies, humane education classes, low-cost spay and neuter services, lost and found assistance, micro-chipping and more.

For further information, call 808-329-1175 or visit

Hui Pono Holoholona offering temporary shelter to cats displaced by lava. Owners provide food, litter, medications.

Email: Helps Animal Evacuation

The June 27 lava flow poses a threat to farms and homes in the Puna area near Pahoa. Since this flow is in an agricultural area, it also threatens farm animals such as chickens, ducks, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, in addition to dogs and cats.

All these animals would need to be evacuated in the event of an approaching lava flow. As people prepare for possible evacuation, they need to prepare and plan for evacuating their livestock and pets, too.

Finding accommodations for displaced people and their animals could become a major challenge as this lava flow continues. H.E.L.P. Puna is providing a free website service for residents who need to find places to protect their animals, and other residents in safe areas who wish to offer their properties as “Places of Refuge”.

H.E.L.P. is the Hawaii Evacuation of Livestock and Pets, a program of the Good Shepherd Foundation, a nonprofit organization with an animal sanctuary in Opihikao, not far from the lava flow.

Everyone is invited to offer their property as a haven from the lava flow for any livestock and pets they can accommodate. Some will be willing to accept only certain types of animals, such as dogs or cats. Others may have large fenced pastures or yards where they can take horses, sheep, or goats. Still others may have small backyards where they can only take chickens.

Those offering their places as refuges can do so for free or for a fee. It is between the parties to decide all financial issues and ensure there is a good fit.

We also invite those with animal trailers to offer their services on this website. Some people will need help moving their animals.

— Find out more:


People planning a visit to the Big Island need not change their arrangements.

Tourism officials are reminding travelers the lava flow likely will not impact their vacations.

Most of the island’s hotels and resorts located along the Kohala and Kona coasts – the opposite side of the island – and none have announced any changes to operations in response to the lava flow.

Ross Birch, Big Island Visitors Bureau executive director, said, “It’s in a very remote part of the island and people don’t need to change their plans.”

However, Birch said, those with plans to stay at bed-and-breakfast or vacation rental units in the near future should keep in contact with the owners for the latest updates.

Guests who may not be able to stay in those units are urged to contact the BIVB office so accommodations can be made.

“We can connect people and help make other arrangements,” he said. “There is no reason not to come visit the Big Island.”

For further information, call (808) 885-1655 or visit:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Become a fan on facebook



%d bloggers like this: