Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, is erupting for the first time in nearly 40 years, prompting an ashfall advisory for Hawaii’s Big Island and surrounding waters until 10 a.m. Monday (3 p.m. ET).
The eruption in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park poses no threat to downhill communities or flights to the island of Hawaii, according to a tweet from the Hawaii Tourism Authority on Monday morning. Even so, the National Weather Service in Honolulu warned that “trace to less than one quarter inch” of ashfall could fall on parts of the island, as winds may carry fine ash and volcanic gas downwind.
The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has received reports of lava overflowing into the southwest portion of the volcano’s caldera, or crater, late Monday morning, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
The agency tweeted that there is no indication of a threat to nearby communities and that no evacuation orders have been issued. Two shelters have been opened as a precaution, despite the fact that “roughly half” of recorded Mauna Loa eruptions have remained in the summit area without threatening populated areas, according to another agency tweet.
“People with respiratory illnesses should remain indoors to avoid inhaling the ash particles and anyone outside should cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth,” the Honolulu office warned. “Possible harm to crops and animals. Minor equipment and infrastructure damage. Reduced visibility. Widespread clean-up may be necessary.”
According to the weather service, ashfall can damage vehicles and buildings, contaminate water supplies, disrupt sewage and electrical systems, and damage or kill vegetation, while abrasive volcanic ash can irritate eyes and lungs.
The observatory previously stated that lava flows do not pose a threat to downslope communities.
“Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly,” the observatory said, adding, “If the eruption remains in Moku’āweoweo, lava flows will most likely be confined within the caldera walls.
“However, if the eruptive vents migrate outside its walls, lava flows may move rapidly downslope.”
Red hues from the eruption illuminated Monday’s predawn sky, according to footage captured at the Kailua Bay & Pier by Matthew Liano, a resident of Kailua-Kona, along the Big Island’s west coast.
“The glow is like nothing I’ve seen here living in Kona for most of my life,” Liano told CNN.
The eruption began in Moku’āweoweo, the summit caldera of Mauna Loa, on Sunday around 11:30 p.m. HST (4:30 a.m. ET Monday), according to the observatory.