The long-anticipated Mauna Loa eruption has finally occurred and it is quite the sight to behold. It might be the only time I get to witness this extraordinary event in my lifetime. I am truly thankful to be living on this island and that the lava is flowing in the opposite direction of my home.
As of today, fissure 3 continues to pump out lava which is flowing down slope to the north. Thankfully, all activity is in the northeast rift and is expected to stay there. The flow front is approximately 2.5 miles from Daniel K. Inouye (Saddle Road) Highway and the road could be covered within the next 3-4 days.
I believe most of the island showed up throughout the week to witness the awe-inspiring lava flow. An endless line of cars has been seen from both the Hilo and Kona side of the island every night as the Big Island community and tourists alike come together to experience this beautiful wonder. From my experience, drivers have been patient and courteous with each other, but there have been a few cars that have driven off the road because they were distracted by the view. If you’re going out there make sure to drive safely.
A traffic migration route was created due to the high traffic volume Saddle Road was experiencing. So far, it appears to be helping. The viewing area is now closer to the lava which is great, but it also means poorer air quality so gas masks are recommended.
Most likely the eruption will continue on the north side. It has been nice to have a break from the uncertainty about which direction the lava would flow from, but I know that there is nothing to be entirely certain about when it comes to a volcanic eruption.
We still have our bags packed for now.
Photographer: Ryan Weatherford