Threat Of Explosive Kilauea Eruption Prompts Closure Of Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park

man, lava flow, Hawaii, volcano
In this photo taken from video an unidentified man gets close to a lava flow advancing down a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa on the island of Hawaii Monday, May 7, 2018. Kilauea volcano has destroyed more than two dozen homes since it began spewing lava hundreds of feet into the air last week, and residents who evacuated don’t know how long they might be displaced. The decimated homes were in the Leilani Estates subdivision, where molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano. (Scott Wiggers/Apau Hawaii Tours via AP, provided by AccuWeather press release)
Kevin Byrne,
Staff Writer for AccuWeather.com

AccuWeather-(ENEWSPF)- There’s more than a little trouble in paradise these days, and it’s nothing to laugh about. Our friends at AccuWeather report that most of Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park is closing Friday due to the ongoing threat of an explosion at the summit of Kilauea Volcano.

“Due to the possibility of a steam-induced explosion at the summit of Kilauea due to the receding lava lake, an ensuing ash fall event, plus southerly wind patterns forecasted for Friday, the majority of the park will be closed Friday until further notice. We will reopen when it is safe to do so,” NPS officials said in a statement.

Only the park’s Kahuku unit, an area where visitors can go on guided hiking tours, is expected to remain open. The entire park is more than 333,300 acres in size.

A total of 15 fissures have cracked open since the volcano’s eruption on Thursday, May 3. Twenty-six homes and 36 totals structures have been destroyed, whiles hundreds remain evacuated from the Leilani Estates community as dangerous sulfur dioxide gas continues to spew into the air.

crack, usgs geologist, Old Kalapana Road, Hawaii
On Thursday, May 10, A USGS geologist inspects a crack that widened considerably in the past day on Old Kalapana Road in Leilani Estates. (Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)

At least 117 acres of the surrounding area is now covered by lava.

Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said on Thursday, May 10, that lava had stopped erupting from the 15 fissure vents that had formed. However, they said earthquake activity in the area was high.

“High levels of unrest related to the intermittent eruption of lava in Leilani Estates in the lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano continue,” officials said.

The national park closed entirely on May 4 due to strong and damaging earthquakes. No injuries were reported, and about 2,600 visitors were evacuated.

“A magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck at 12:32 p.m. Friday, and caused violent shaking throughout the park. It triggered rock slides on park trails, crater walls, and along sections of Chain of Craters Road,” officials said at the time. Just one hour earlier, a magnitude-5.4 earthquake caused a coastal cliff to collapse into the ocean near the Holei Sea Arch.”

steam, gas, Hawaii, volcano, eruption
Steam and gas rise along the edge of Kilauea’s summit crater in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, Thursday, May 10, 2018. The park is closing Friday due to the threat of an explosive volcanic eruption. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, provided by AccuWeather press release)

A partial closure of more than 15,600 acres was instituted on May 2, due to the possibility of an eruption and unstable geologic activity.

The park first opened on Aug. 1, 1916, becoming the 15th national park in the system, and has been designated as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. In 2017, more than 2 million visitors flocked to the park.