Lava Eruption Updates & Resources
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Lava Eruption Updates
Information & Resources
October 16, 11:00 a.m. update
Life after lava: Restoring a community
When the first fissure erupted in the Leilani Estates subdivision on Hawaii Island on May 3, 2018, no one could’ve predicted where the lava flows would go, how widespread the eruption would be, or how much damage would be caused.
As lava flows advanced and inundated communities, Hawaii Electric Light de-energized power for the safety of residents and first responders. Hawaii County Civil Defense evacuated subdivisions. Residents fled their homes, unsure if they’d ever be able to return.
The eruption damaged or destroyed more than 900 utility poles and other electrical equipment. About 935 customers lost power and more than 700 homes were destroyed in Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens and Kapoho. Some major roadways and communities remain covered by lava.
September 14, 10:30 a.m. update
Hawaii Electric Light partners with Hawaii County and customers to restore power in Leilani Estates
Over the last two weeks, Hawaii Electric Light crews have been working in Leilani Estates to remove damaged electrical equipment and poles, and repair and replace equipment damaged by the eruption and seismic activity. Hawaii County Department of Public Works, and the Hawaii County Civil Defense partnered with Hawaii Electric Light in the assessment of damage, turning off main breakers, and clearing the way for crews. Customers have provided access for safety assessments, enabling reconnection without delay. Crews will re-energize parts of Leilani Estates starting Friday, Sept. 14.
September 7, 1:00 p.m. update
With activity from Kilauea settling down, this week Hawaii Electric Light crews are working on clearing damaged equipment, conducting damage assessments and doing repair work in Leilani Estates and other areas affected by the lava.
September 1, 8:00 a.m. update
On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)-Hawaiian Volcano Observatory released a time-lapse video illustrating the drastic change of the Kilauea summit from April 14 to August 20. According to the USGS, the crater grew seven times larger throughout the period of volcanic activity.
August 18, 11:00 a.m. update
As of Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that Kilauea and fissure 8 have remained silent with not much new activity. Due to long-shore transportation of black sand, a small lagoon has formed at the Pohoiki boat ramp.
August 13, 11:00 a.m. update
A $5,000 donation from Hawaii Electric Light to Hope Services Hawaii was presented last week Thursday on Aug. 9 during the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO) disaster management conference at the Hawaii Convention Center. Following an update on the ongoing Kilauea response, the nonprofit Hope Services was recognized for its efforts aiding displaced victims of the lava flow.
"Hope Services has been instrumental in providing emergency shelter for residents of Lower Puna who lost their homes and in many cases, their livelihoods," said Jay Ignacio, president of Hawaii Electric Light and a PRiMO conference speaker. "We applaud their work every day to help rebuild lives and strengthen the community, and to provide their services with compassion and respect for our community's most vulnerable populations."
August 7, 10:00 a.m. update
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) observed low levels of lava fountaining in the fissure 8 cone during their overflight yesterday morning (Aug. 6, 2018), but no visible supply of lava into the channel. Active lava has been reported near Pohoiki boat ramp, but there was no clear advancement toward it during the weekend. Fissure 8 has been relatively quiet recently, but it should be noted that eruptions can return to high levels of lava discharge after a few days of pause.
July 25, 8:00 a.m. update
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) team shared this photo taken on July 22, 2018 of the fissure 8 channel. As shown in the image, the channel continues to push lava toward the coast. The trail overflowed, but the lava was confined and did not threaten any homes or structures. It looks like Pohoiki boat ramp and Isaac Hale Beach Park are not too far from the lava’s path.
July 15, 8:30 a.m. update
During Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's morning flight on July 13, 2018, the field crew noticed a tiny new island of lava that formed on the northernmost part of the ocean entry. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) team captured this photo that shows the island oozing lava similar to the lava oozing from the broad flow front along the coastline. Fissure 8 continues to be the primary erupting vent on Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone.
July 7, 7:00 a.m. update
Last week Saturday, a blessing was held at the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church’s transitional housing village in Pahoa, and the installation of Hawaii’s first solar Smartflower system was celebrated. Our Hawaii Electric Light team helped T&T Electric get this first of its kind Smartflower system connected to the electrical grid and ready for use! The lava evacuees are able to use electricity, supplied by a solar “smartflower.” The new smart solar system is designed to adjust itself for optimization, automatically tracking the sun for maximum energy production and cooling and cleaning itself for reliable self-maintenance. The system also monitors the weather, folding itself into a more durable position to withstand harsh conditions. Hopefully, this new technology can be integrated for future projects throughout the state.
July 1, 8:30 a.m. update
This photo shared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) represents tenacity and the willingness of the people of Hawaii, especially those on Hawaii Island, to help each other through this difficult time. As lava continues to flow, new life will begin to form and we will eventually overcome adversity.
June 23, 5:30 p.m. update
Lava continues to erupt at a high rate from Fissure 8 and flow into the ocean at the southeastern end of Hawaii Island. This photo shared by a Hawaii Electric Light employee shows the effects of lava at night and can be seen in the background behind a home that is miles away. Those affected by the Kilauea eruption are asked to register with FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency to qualify for aid and assistance by stopping by the gym at Keaau High School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m (open daily). Our Customer Care team will be available at FEMA's Disaster Recovery Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the weekends and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the weekdays. For additional information, please visit: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4366.
June 19, 2:40 p.m. update
Watch this re-cap from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) which provides detailed explanations of what’s been going on in Kilauea’s lower east rift zone since the eruption. The southeastern coast of Hawaii Island has undergone a huge transformation caused by multiple fissures, earthquakes, and lava flows from Kilauea. The video summarizes the events beginning April 17, 2018 where increased pressure of the magma system beneath Puu Oo was observed.
June 15, 2:00 p.m. update
Yesterday morning on June 14, 2018, Hawaii Electric Light employees fast-tracked the connection of power to a new transitional housing community. Through Hope Services, a village of small shelters was constructed at Sacred Hearts Catholic Church in Pahoa.
In less than a month, micro-units for those displaced by the Kilauea eruption were built with the help of 150 to 180 volunteers and assistance from County of Hawaii and other organizations such as Pacific Rim Construction and Big Island Electrical Service and TNT Electric.
The 120-square-foot shelters were based on a shed design provided by HPM Building Supply, and was modified to include two windows, a security door, outlets, lights and insulation.
June 8, 3:30 p.m. update
Early this morning on June 8, 2018 at 3:00 a.m. HST, fissure 8 located on Kilauea Volcano's Lower East Rift Zone erupted, spraying lava upward from its cracks. According to the USGS, these lava fountains are caused by quick formation and expansion of gas bubbles. Eruptions from these fountains range from 32-328 m in height, and the one from this morning reached about 180-220 ft. Check out this photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) capturing the lava fountain mid-eruption.
June 6, 3:30 p.m. update
Customer Care representatives available in Pahoa starting June 7
Hawaii Electric Light's Customer Care team will be at the Pahoa County Council Office located at 15-2879 Pahoa Village Road starting tomorrow, June 7.
Representatives will be available to assist customers from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Thursday in June. Information on electrical safety, emergency preparedness, restoration, and customer accounts and billing will be available.
June 4, 2:50 p.m. update
An overflight by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at approximately 6:13 a.m. HST on June 4, 2018 caught the lava flow originating from Fissure 8 (not visible) entering Kapoho Bay. The ocean entry was reported to have occurred by 10:30 p.m. HST on the night of June 3, 2018.
June 2, 11:00 a.m. update
Drone footage taken by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on May 31, 2018 captured the dramatic changes occurring within Halemaumau crater at Kilauea's summit since explosive eruptions of ash and gas and ongoing wall collapse began in mid-May. In the video, you can see the steep, and in places, overhung crater walls, new cracks and faults that reflect ongoing subsidence of the area and intense steaming from a new collapse pit on the north margin of Halemaumau. The footage also shows yellow sulfur precipitate on the rubble-covered floor and a scattering of large ballistic blocks around the crater rim. Limited drone flights into this hazardous area are conducted with permission and coordination with Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
On June 1, 2018, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim signed a mandatory evacuation order for areas east of Pomaikai Street in Leilani Estates.
May 31, 4:00 p.m. update
Hawaii Electric Light working to maintain power for lower Puna
Hawaii Electric Light continues with its efforts to maintain electric service for communities being impacted by the eruption and lava flows that began in Leilani Estates four weeks ago.
About 800 customers in Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens, and Kapoho are experiencing extended power outages due to the destruction of poles, lines and equipment. Power will not be restored in areas with active eruption activity or extensive damage. Once the situation stabilizes and Civil Defense officials deem the impacted areas are safe to enter, utility personnel will conduct a full assessment and select the most suitable plan to restore electric service.
May 31, 3:00 p.m. update
Planning for the worst
Teams from Hawaii Electric Light and Hawaiian Electric have been working together on how we might be able to provide electricity to Kapoho and Kalapana — two communities that will likely be cut off if the main distribution lines into those areas succumb to lava. The teams are preparing fast-response and long-term scenarios.
Fast-response solutions include working with Civil Defense and other First Responders to ensure critical facilities such as communication towers and water tanks have back up plans for power and can continue to operate. Another example of a fast response solutions are mini PV stations, which involve photovoltaic panels connected to batteries, which could provide about 8 kilowatts of electricity. The idea is that these could provide electricity for charging cell phones at community information centers, or to provide power for lighting at road blocks.
The teams are also looking at fuel-based power generation, and have 200- and 500-kilowatt generators identified for Kapoho and Kalapana. These could be used for microgrids.
May 29, 4:30 p.m. update
Eruption damages more than 400 poles, extended power outages will affect lower Puna
The spread of erupting lava has destroyed Hawaii Electric Light equipment, causing outages in areas of lower Puna. Some of those outages may last for an extended time.
Continued lava activity has damaged and destroyed more than 400 poles and related equipment in the lower Puna area. Where possible, power is being rerouted to continue electrical service. Destruction of some utility equipment has cut off all electric connection to the following areas:
- Kapoho, including Vacationland Hawaii and Kapoho Beach Lots
- Lanipuna Gardens
- Leilani Estates from Moku Street to Mohala Street including all connecting roads
- Areas along Highway 132
The company is evaluating its options to serve Vacationland Hawaii and Kapoho Beach Lots areas once eruption and lava flow activities cease. Options to serve these areas include a line extension over areas not impacted by lava, installing taller poles to bridge areas impacted by lava, or creating a small microgrid. The final plan cannot be selected until the area is stable.
May 28, 10:30 a.m. update
Hawaii Electric Light warns of possible power interruptions
Hawaii Electric Light warns customers that power interruptions are likely if the lava continues to advance toward Highway 132.
The company has been monitoring lava activity and is ready to implement its plans to perform planned switching to reroute power to customers in the lower Puna areas. This work will begin at about 3:00 p.m., Monday, May 28, however may occur sooner if conditions change. During switching operations, customers in the following areas will experience a power interruption for about one hour.
- Leilani Estates
- Kamaili Road
- Kalapana and surrounding communities including Black Sands Beach, Kalapana Seaview Estates, Kehena Beach, and Puna Beach Palisades
- Nanawale Estates and Nanawale Farm Ranch
- Tangerine Acres
- Pahoa High School
- And areas surrounding these subdivisions
May 27, 9:00 p.m. update
As eruptions continue from Kilauea’s lower East Rift Zone, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) captured pahoehoe lava advancing west from fissure 7 on Leilani Avenue on May 27, 2018. Take note of the lava fountain in the background. Fissure 7 activity increased overnight with lava fountains reaching 164 to 197 feet high.
May 25, 12:00 p.m. update
Check out this video from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Earlier this week, blue burning flames of methane gas were observed in the cracks on Kahukai Street, in the Leilani Estates subdivision.
When hot lava buries plants and shrubs, methane gas is produced as a byproduct of burning vegetation. Methane gas can seep into subsurface voids and explode when heated, or as shown in this video, emerge from cracks in the ground several feet away from the lava. When ignited, the methane produces a blue flame.
Short, intermittent bursts of methane are visible in the center area of the video. Lava fountaining is also visible.
May 24, 11:00 a.m. update
On May 24, 2018 at 9:45 a.m., U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stated that eruption of lava continues in the area of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivision at the Kilauea Volcano’s Lower East Rift Zone and photo provided by USGS shows the Fissure 22 fountain, which is not as high as several days ago but still producing a significant lava flow heading for the ocean.
The middle portion of the fissure system (centered on Pohoiki Rd.) continues to produce the most robust eruptive activity in the Lower East Rift Zone. Overnight field crews observed that fissure areas 2, 7, 8 and 3, 14, 21 (between Luana and Kaupili St. in Leilani Estates) reactivated and are spattering. Intermittent signals recorded on sensors closest to the two ocean entries suggest they remain active.
Volcanic gas emissions remain very high from the fissure eruptions.
Additional ground cracking and outbreaks of lava in the area of the active fissures are possible. Hawaii Island residents downslope of the region of fissures should heed all Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency messages and warnings.
May 22, 6:00 p.m. update
Fake news clarification: Eruption threat to Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) will not result in power outages for Hawaii Island - we have sufficient generation, despite what some media are reporting.
The PGV plant, which isn't owned or operated by Hawaii Electric Light, has been shut down since the eruption began and we have reserve power generation to meet the island's demand.
May 22, 12:00 p.m. update
Hawaii Electric Light announces new Pahoa location for Customer Care services starting May 24
Hawaii Electric Light invites the lower Puna community to visit its Customer Care team at the Pahoa County Council Office located at 15-2879 Pahoa Village Road every Thursday starting May 24, 2018.
Company representatives will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursdays to provide information on electrical safety, emergency preparedness, restoration, and customer accounts and billing.
May 20, 8:00 p.m. update
On May 20, 2018, at 6:45 a.m. HST, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was able to get a view of the lava ocean entry point from a helicopter overflight. See the white "laze" plume form as hot lava hits the ocean sending hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air. Laze is a health hazard, especially for those in the immediate vicinity of the plume.
May 19, 2:00 p.m. update
Hawaii Electric Light develops contingency plans to continue to serve customers in lower Puna
Hawaii Electric Light is developing contingency plans to provide options for restoring electricity to communities in lower Puna that may be cut off by lava flows.
With lava moving more quickly over the past 48 hours, engineers were working near affected areas on Saturday to identify suitable locations for portable generators and other equipment.
"For the past week, engineers from Hawaii Electric Light and Hawaiian Electric have been analyzing possible scenarios and creating plans that can help power critical infrastructure, such as cell phone towers," said spokesperson Rhea Lee-Moku. "We've developed several plans that can be implemented to provide short-term solutions. Work on long-term solutions will continue and will be dependent on the impact of the lava and other seismic activity in this area, as well as guidance from Civil Defense authorities."
May 19, 8:00 a.m. update
On May 18, at 11:58 PM HST, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports a short-lived explosion from Halemaumau created an ash cloud that reached up to 10,000 feet above sea level and was carried southwest by the wind. Possible trace ash fall may have occurred along Highway 11. Information on ash hazards and how to prepare for ashfall may be found at http://www.ivhhn.org/information#ash. It is recommended to avoid excessive exposure to ash. Additional explosions are possible at any time with little warning.
This graphic from USGS shows the Ash3D model run for May 19, 2018, at 10:26 UTC. The model uses wind and weather data, along with eruption parameters like plume height and volume, to forecast where ash clouds might move and where deposits might land. Hawaii Electric Light and the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency are working closely together to ensure the safety of Hawaii Island residents in the area, and geologists continue to track the lava flow activity of Kilauea.
May 18, 12:00 p.m. update
Effective immediately, our Customer Care team will not be available at the County of Hawaii's Recovery Information and Assistance Center (RIAC) located at the Pahoa Community Center. The County of Hawaii will need space for additional services that the RIAC is bringing in for customers.
A new location for our Customer Care team has not been determined. We will share once we have additional information.