Kilauea Eruption: Should You Cancel a Hawaiian Vacation?

6pm Thursday

You’ve probably heard that Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii had an explosive eruption just before sunrise today.  You can always get the latest info from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.  A column of smoke/ash rose well above 25,000 in the pre-dawn sky.  Here’s the view from a HVO camera on Mauna Loa, itself an active volcano.  The eruption column is on the left side of the pic.


This volcano doesn’t often see explosive events (unlike Pacific Northwest volcanoes).  Typically eruptions consist of lava oozing or fountaining out of the ground plus volcanic gases.  One question today:  “could the ash reach us?”.  That’s a good question with a simple answer.  YES, ash COULD reach us, but it would have to be a much larger eruption AND wind flow would have to be just right for it to get here.  So in reality, NO, it’s unlikely we will ever see ash from that volcano in the Pacific Northwest.

A much bigger question…SHOULD I CANCEL MY HAWAIIAN VACATION?  The  screaming answer is NO.  Why?  Because this eruption is only affecting a very specific small area on the Big Island.  

Mark Hawaii Volcano 1

Note that even 90% of folks on that island wouldn’t be aware anything is happening (except for occasional small earthquakes).

The typical low/mid level wind flow is from the northeast on this part of the globe; the famous “trade winds”.  That means most of the “vog” (volcanic haze) and ash/smoke heads to the southwest and off the southern tip of the island.  The vog does also move north to Kailua-Kona on the west side of the island in a typical windflow pattern.  But this leaves the rest of the island chain unaffected by this current (or any future) eruption of Kilauea.

Mark Hawaii Volcano 2

To make it crystal clear, this should do the trick…

Mark Hawaii Volcano 3

Are our volcanoes affected?  No, they form inland of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.  Hawaiian volcanoes from in the middle of a tectonic plate that moves over a “hot spot” on the earth’s surface.  Totally different setup and one is not related to the other.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

22 Responses to Kilauea Eruption: Should You Cancel a Hawaiian Vacation?

  1. WEATHERDAN says:

    What’s up with the NWS? Now they won’t answer there phone after 6:00 PM and the automated phone system doesn’t have the current infp half the time. Seems like they need to fix their name to The National Weather No Service. Peace.

  2. Ken in Wood Village says:

    Looks like another Typhoon maybe forming in the Arabian Sea this week. On the EURO it gets as low at 966mb and looks like it will hit either Oman or Yemen but that’s still about 5 days away and things can change a lot.

    If the GFS and EURO are correct. It looks like we could have a wet next Sunday. Both models show a good amount of moisture coming our way but again, it’s a week away and things can change a lot.

    Stay Tuned!!!!!

  3. You do realize you highlighted Hilina Slump right.
    you do know about the Hilina Slump.. right…
    trust me when i say, when that goes we all will know about in 3 to 5 hours.

  4. Jesse-SW Portland Suburbs says:

    How much did the Hawaii chamber of commerce pay you to make this post Mark? 😉

  5. Roland Derksen says:

    Light sprinkles here this morning. Wolf Read just sent me a letter saying my area (Vancouver BC) could get about half an inch or more of rainfall next weekend. That would be nice.

  6. alohabb says:

    We had one VOG day here in Oahu, and that’s it. Been here 10 days so far and no issues. Even caught an island hopper to the Big Island and had no issues whatsoever. If you cancel your trip, your missing out on beautiful weather, warm ocean waters and cold Mai Tai’s.

  7. Paul D says:


    • K says:

      Absolutely. Hoping for some exciting weather in India. Gonna be staying there two months.

      • Paul D says:

        Maybe hot and hot? 🙂

        • K says:

          lol possibly. We are staying on the west coast of India for a week or two, lots of cyclone activity in the coming weeks predicted. Also the average rain EACH day is 1.5 inches, so…

    • Ken in Wood Village says:

      I want to say, “booooring” 😂😂😂😂😂😂

  8. W7ENK says:

    Was kinda hoping we’d get a little more than a light sprinkle of rain. Free water for the garden is always a nice thing…

  9. Joshua Downtown PDX says:

    The GFS has 93, 92 for Saturday/Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and the Euro has 63, 60 and rain. Haha. Unfortunately, the GFS has been blowing the Euro out of the water lately for our area.

    • Joshua Downtown PDX says:

      The Euro is coming around to the GFS. At least for the first part of the holiday weekend. Uh oh. I think it’s safe to say that summer started in April again. This is going to be a bear of a fire season. Tough on the native vegetation too.

  10. K says:

    First. Boring weather up ahead, sadly. Heading to India soon though, so some exciting weather probably in store for me there.

  11. Steven R Glass says:

    The So2 has is inundating the Kona coast as the gas gets trapped in a wind eddy caused by the big mountains and the prevailing trade winds. Currently there is a code red warning which means you should stay indoors

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