Hawaii volcano 'may become more explosive' at any time

The new fissure emitting steam and lava spatter spurred Hawaii officials to call for more evacuations on Sunday.

The U.S. Geological Survey upgraded the aviation warning for Kilauea from orange to red Tuesday afternoon, saying ash from the Halemaumau crater had been rising almost continuously and in increased intensity.

"All hotels on the island of Hawaii are open and operating as usual", according to a written Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau statement issued to Travel Agent Tuesday night.

According to the agency, plumes of ash cloud as high as 12,000 feet are threatening visibility, with volatile wind conditions potentially bringing projectiles and volcanic fog in contact with aircraft. "Ash is bad for planes so USGS has put out this warning to communicate with them".

On Tuesday, a plume of ash from the volcano rose 12,000 feet into the air, dropping ash on large sections of the island.

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The National Weather Service has warned residents of "light ashfall" throughout the day in Ka'u, the island's southernmost district, after a burst of volcanic emissions around 9 a.m.

Since the Kilauea volcano erupted May 3, it's been one nightmare after another for residents in the southeast part of the Big Island. Ash has been rising almost continuously from the vent and drifting downwind to the southwest.

On the Big Island, ash fell on southern communities, such as Pahala, 18 miles (29 km) south of the summit, with cars heading from the area covered in the gray powder.

Such activity increases the potential for groundwater to pour into the system, which could generate more big explosions, Anderson says.

Janet Babb, a geologist from the Hawaii volcano observatory, said phreatic eruptions are "notoriously hard to forecast, and can occur with little or no warning". Big Island summer hotel bookings have dropped by nearly half from a year ago, Rob Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitor Bureau, told journalists on a conference call.


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