Kilauea exploded at its summit shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday following two weeks of volcanic activity.
UNITED STATES.- Hawaii residents covered their faces with masks after a volcano menacing the Big Island for weeks exploded, sending a mixture of pulverized rock, glass and crystal into the air in its strongest eruption of sandlike ash in days.
The Kilauea volcano exploded at its summit shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday following two weeks of volcanic activity that sent lava flows into neighborhoods and destroyed at least 26 homes. Scientists said the eruption was the most powerful in recent days, though it probably las- ted only a few minutes. And it had a smell.
“This morning it smelled like sulfur so we had to close all the windows,”Lindsey Magnani said Thursday as she and her family picked up masks in Volcano, Hawaii. She and her fiance, Elroy Rodrigues, had been sneezing all day, but their children — Kahele Rodrigues, 2, and Kayden Rodrigues, 3 months old — were doing OK.
Authorities handed out around 2,000 masks for protection for people living near the volcano. But geologists have warned that the volcano could become even more violent, with increasing ash production and the potential that future blasts could hurl boulders the size of cows from the summit. But after Thursday’s eruption, most residents found only thin coatings of ash, if they saw any at all, as winds blew much of the 30,000-foot (9,100-meter) plume away from people.
“It was a grit, like a sand at the beach,” said Joe Laceby, who lives in Volcano a few miles to the northeast of Kilauea’s summit. The ash was a bit of an irritant, he said, but “not too bad.”
Laceby sealed windows and cracks in his home with cellophane wrap to keep out ash and volcanic gases. He has gas masks to protect himself from the toxic fumes and ash.
Winds kept the ash away from the Volcano Winery, tasting room manager Lani Delapenia said. A thin coating of white soot had blanketed tables and vines the day before, on Wednesday, but none wafted over the day of the 30,000-foot plume. The strength and direction of the wind makes all the difference, she said.