Mauna Loa volcano lava flow could reach key Hawaii highway within days

Lava flowing from Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, could reach a highway connecting the east and west sides of Hawaii’s Big Island within days, according to officials. 

There is “a very high probability that this lava flow, if it continues, will definitely reach the road,” Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told CBS News. “So we’re looking at about two days out.”

Although the flow is slow-moving, it is still persistent, and emergency managers are ramping up their planning as it threatens to cross over the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as the DKI Highway or Saddle Road. 

Mauna Loa, which last erupted in 1984, has been oozing lava since Sunday. Geologists say they have detected a large number of tremors around the eruption site, which means the lava will continue to flow.

In this aerial photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Mauna Loa volcano is seen erupting from vents on the Northeast Rift Zone on the Big Island of Hawaii, Nov. 28, 2022.

U.S. Geological Survey via AP

Nearby, Kilauea is also erupting — marking the first time the Big Island has seen dual eruptions in decades.

But for now, the Mauna Loa eruption is more of an attraction than a threat. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (EMA) said Wednesday afternoon there is “still no immediate threat to populated areas” from the eruption.

The rare event caused thousands of spectators to flock to the eruption site and the DKI Highway, which has become an impromptu viewing point. One visitor, Hawaii resident Bryant Webster Schultz, told CBS News he has waited his whole life to see the eruption. 

Talmadge Magno, Hawaii County civil defense administrator, said the crowd around the DKI Highway is creating a safety hazard. While the highway remains open, the Hawaii Department of Transportation is asking the public to use caution and avoid parking along the highway to observe the volcanic activity.  

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