The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that that the explosive eruption at Kilauea summit occurred at 4:17 a.m. Agency officials said the wind may carry the resulting ash plume north toward Kau, Volcano, Mountain View, Kea'au and as far as Hilo.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupted from its Summit before dawn Thursday, shooting a dusty plume of ash about 30,000 ft into the sky.
Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes, erupting nearly continuously since 1983.
Mount Pinatubo last erupted in 1991, killing more than 350 people in what became the second-largest eruption of the 20th century.
An image of falling ash from Kilauea as captured by the Hawaii Volcano Observatory's webcam Thursday morning. MUST CREDIT USGS
"What's challenging for us is - what's going to be the population we're going to need to evacuate by air?"
"I think it's going to be a series of explosions similar to the one that happened this morning, and that's based on what happened in 1924, which is really our only analog", he said of the almost century old event, which lasted 2-1/2 weeks and killed one person who was hit by a "ballistic block". This could cause breathing problems for residents, and there is a risk of elevated levels of volcanic gas.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed given the threat of further activity, which could include more eruptions and earthquakes.
Scientists warned on May 9 that a drop in the lava lake at the summit might create conditions for an explosion that could fling ash and boulders the size of refrigerators into the air. One such eruption, in 1924, killed one person and filled the sky with ash for 17 days.
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For some, the volcanic activity at Kilauea, on Hawaii's Big Island hasn't even impacted their ability to play golf.
Robert Hughes owns the Aloha Junction Bed and Breakfast, about a mile and a half from the crater.
"Yesterday was not like this", she said of the ash.
Fenix Grange of the state Department of Health said 10 new air quality monitors have been installed "circling the rift areas".
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His business has been hit hard by fears of the volcano, a major attraction for visitors. For some, this is not impacting their daily lives, as people continue to play golf (see below).
"They said they slept through it".
Scientists Michelle Coombs said at a morning news conference at Hawaii County Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo that the event, which sent a cloud of ash and smoke up to 30,000 feet high, was "consistent with what we were thinking might happen". "Now they're acting like it's all super-dangerous and everything, but it just kind of oozes out".
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