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Pahoa Lava Flow Unlikely to Affect Vacation Plans – 11/5/2014

Recent Pahoa Volcanic Activity

The news/media seem to be overstating the impact of recent Hawaii volcanic activity.  I thought I would write this post to un-dramatize the recent volcanic activity and its impending impact.  While it is true the current lava flow is moving towards the village of Pahoa, located to the southeast of Hilo, and fairly unpredictable, there is little chance that the whole town is in jeopardy of being covered over.  The most likely impact would be to split the town in half.

I don’t mean to understate the seriousness of the situation, but due to the lay of the land…the topography, the lava is more likely to continue its unrelenting path to the coast, rather than expand wide enough to impact the entire town, as some news reports have stated.

Its also a very slow moving flow, usually advancing less than 50 yards a day, so residents of Pahoa have had ample warning and opportunity to move their belongings and find alternative living arrangements.  The temporary shelter set up by local authorities has had very few occupants as residents have found places to move to.  They understand that this is not like a hurricane or tornado where the impact is comparably immediate and you can assess your losses and move on.

Pahoa will continue to be under the threat of approaching lava for at least the next few months, if volcanic activity continues as it has for several years.  For those who may be planning a Hawaiian vacation which includes a visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, there will likely be no noticeable impact to your plans.

The largest majority of tourists base their stay in the Kailua-Kona area of the Big Island, which is on the opposite side of the island.  As a matter of fact, Pahoa is located off the main highway that circles the island, so most of the residents of the Big Island don’t feel any impact from this latest development either.  Very few locals and tourists alike ever take Highway 130 through the area affected.

If you are curious and want to keep up to date with the most recent developments, you can “Like” and Follow my Facebook page, My Hawaii Food Fun.  You can also “Like” and Follow Big Island Video News, who posts daily (and sometimes more frequently) updates and warnings issued by the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Hawaii County Civil Defense, and the U.S. Geological Service.

Lava Flow Caveats

Hawaii has passed Emergency laws which make looting a felony and also limits access to the affected areas.  What this also means is that curious people will not be permitted close to the lava flow.  The National Guard has been monitoring traffic in and out of the area, assisting local law enforcement.

Not surprisingly, these new laws are being tested and challenged.

While helicopters provide the best viewing of this latest lava activity, their access has also been limited for both safety and as a courtesy to residents still living in the area.  The helicopter tour companies have been very cooperative with local authorities in limiting their flights below 4000′.

Having said that, this is a serious situation, especially for those who have called Pahao home for years…if not generations.

Please send your thoughts and prayers to the residents of the Pahoa area!


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