Partial closures at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as Hurricanes approach

Halema‘uma‘u is seen from Crater Rim Trail near Steam Vents on Tuesday morning (Aug 30), the calm before the storms. NPS Photo

Halema‘uma‘u is seen from Crater Rim Trail near Steam Vents on Tuesday morning (Aug 30), the calm before the storms. NPS Photo

UPDATED (12:38 PM on 8/31/2016)

Hawaii National Park, Hawai‘i – To ensure the safety of visitors and employees, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will close at noon today until it is determined safe to reopen.

Park staff and volunteers not directly involved in storm efforts were directed to stay home. Guests at Kīlauea Military Camp and Volcano House will shelter in place, or if necessary, be directed to the nearest shelter.

Rangers will assess impacts from Hurricane Madeline at 8 a.m. Thursday. The strongest winds are predicted to hit the park between noon and 2 p.m. Wednesday. Forecasters predict the park could see up to 10 inches of rain, maximum winds of 45 mph up to 75 mph (depending on the storm’s track), and dangerously high surf.

“The closure will continue until we have a chance to assess the impact to the park and mitigate any damage. With Hurricane Lester right on the heels of Madeline, and still a Category 4 hurricane, we could end up continuing the closure for a few days until it’s safe to reopen,” said Chief Ranger John Broward.

Rangers will determine by Friday if the Kahuku Unit, open only on Saturdays and Sundays, will remain closed over the weekend.

MEDIA RELEASE

Hawaii National Park, Hawai‘i – To ensure the safety of visitors and employees, sections of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will close starting at 5 p.m. today as hurricanes Madeline and Lester approach Hawai‘i Island.

Park closures are as follows for Tuesday, August 30 by 5 p.m.:

  • Kulanaokuaiki Campground and Hilina Pali Road
  • All backcountry sites and Mauna Loa Road from Kīpukapuaulu to the overlook

The following closures will commence on Wednesday, August 31:

  • Nāmakanipaio Campground and A-Frame Cabins will close by 9 a.m.
  • The coastal lava viewing area and Chain of Craters Road will close by 9 a.m.
  • Jaggar Museum & Kīlauea Visitor Center will close Wed., 8/31, time to be determined
  • The entrance station will close on Wed., 8/31, time to be determined

Guests staying at Kīlauea Military Camp and Volcano House may shelter in place, or be directed by employees to the nearest shelter (if necessary). In addition, the Kahuku Unit will remain closed over the weekend, but may reopen if Hurricane Lester is not a threat.

“Although we don’t intend at this time to close the entire park, visitors are advised to stay off the roads and plan to visit the park once the storms pass and damage is assessed,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Hurricane-force winds, dangerous surf, and very heavy rainfall are expected.

Closures will remain in effect until the storms have passed and conditions are safe. Additional closures may be warranted as the storm gets closer, and any damage is assessed. Updates will be posted to the park’s website www.nps.gov/havo, its official social media sites, and recorded to (808) 985-6000.

Popular visitor areas at the summit of Kīlauea will remain open at this time, including Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube), Kīlauea Visitor Center and the Jaggar Museum and observation deck.

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