6 Ways The Volcanic Eruption Is Affecting Hawaii

Life goes on: Kilauea volcano ash plume rises in the distance on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Hawaii is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, especially for Americans. The Hawaiian Islands make most of their income through tourism and vacations since so many people love to visit this island paradise.

With the recent eruption of Kilauea, however, visitors are feeling nervous. Is Hawaii safe to visit right now? Will it be damaged by the volcanic eruptions? If you’re worried about Hawaii’s future, here are six ways Hawaii is being affected by the Kilauea eruptions.

1. Lava trails are changing the landscape

Kilauea is erupting on Big Island, as Hawaii’s largest island is affectionately called. None of the other Hawaiian Islands are being affected right now, and while some volcanic ash may blow their way, the cleanup will be minimal. While none of the other Hawaiian Islands will change, Big Island will experience some changes in the next few weeks.

The landscape is shifting due to lava trails. Kilauea has erupted before, although her lava trail usually pours into the sea. Since she’s erupting across the landscape this time, some terrain will change after the eruption is finished.

2. Here comes the “laze” and “vog”

With every volcanic eruption, toxic gases are released into the air. Two concerns residents and tourists should watch out for are “laze” and “vog.”

Laze is a portmanteau of the words “lava” and “haze.” Laze is created when lava streams into the ocean, creating super hot and acidic steam plumes that can be deadly. Laze can also cause lung damage and irritate eyes and skin. Although laze threats are greatest where the lava pours into the ocean, laze can also be blown inland and should be avoided by staying indoors.

Meanwhile, vog (a shortening of “volcanic smog”) is air pollution made up of sulphur dioxide emitted from volcanic fissures. Vog can cause lung damage and irritation, as well as headaches, eye irritation and sore throats. According to NBC, trade winds have been blowing most of the vog offshore, although areas downwind of the vog are affected. It is still safe to travel to the many areas of Hawaii that haven’t been affected by vog.

3. Planes are being grounded

Since the eruption is causing minor earthquakes, some airlines close to the eruption are limiting or canceling flights. If you’re planning to fly in or out of Hawaii during the eruption, you should check with your airline to see if they’re planning to stay on the ground instead.

Until the eruption is over, conditions could affect flight schedules. In theory, clouds of volcanic ash could ground planes as well. So far, however, this hasn’t happened, and most Hawaiian airlines are functioning normally. Once the eruption is over, every airline will be back to normal.

4. Hiking trails are closing

Hawaii is famous for its hiking trails and scenic paths carved out up and down the volcanoes. Most Hawaiian trails are open and perfectly safe, but visitors are warned that some trails may close without notice.

A few rockslides have occurred during the eruption, blocking the paths. It will be a few months before all of these trails are back to normal. Otherwise, the Hawaiian terrain remains the same.

5. Homes have been destroyed

Thousands have been evacuated to ensure their safety, but some families have lost their homes due to the eruption.

According to Los Angeles Times, 82 structures including 41 homes have been destroyed by the lava, which has reportedly covered 2,200 acres on Big Island.

6. Tourism is falling

Hawaii relies heavily on tourism for its economy, and the state has reportedly lost millions of tourism dollars since Kilauea erupted.

“It’s still great to visit Hawaii Island. The eruption site is just a very small portion of the island, less than 1% of the island is impacted by the volcanic eruptions,” said Hawaii Governor David Ige.

It can be very dramatic when a volcano erupts, but Hawaii is still safe to visit. Honolulu is very far from the eruption itself (over 200 miles), and all of the smaller islands are free from danger. You shouldn’t cancel plans for Hawaiian trips or worry about the future of the island. Keep your plans open, and go enjoy the safety and splendor of Hawaii.