Daily quakes: my new norm

While standing at my kitchen sink washing dishes this morning, I calm-as-I-could-be reacted to the shaking of my house from another earthquake: I focused on its duration, its intensity, and of course whether or not I should run, not screaming, out my front door and down the stairs to the relative safety of the great outdoors.

It turned out to be a small quake: a 3.4, about 13 km away from me and 7.3 km deep.  In the final analysis, not a big deal.  But during it, waiting to see how it played out, it was a very big deal.  Before it happened this morning, I had come to feel some hope; it had been more than a day since my house shook that much.  Also, the language in the alerts from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory has been gentler lately: the words “small amount” and “minor” have been employed, and I was started to relax a bit.

Okay, so that was dumb of me.

However, there are things that are good: the image above is from May 6, and the dots represent quakes in a 24-hour period.  The image below was captured a few minutes ago, and it is definitely more pleasing to my eye.  (I live near the “c” in Volcano.  The far right of the island is where the lava is terrifying people.)

few quakes

Besides fewer quakes, there is other good news.  A geographer friend of mine whose home is on the recently-in-the-news-a-lot Kamaili Road has found some solace wrapped up in this disaster; she writes about the good geography lessons emerging from all this craziness: “people are looking at maps (yes!) and calling Kamaili Road by its name.”  (Kamaili Road is often misidentified as Opihikao Road.) 

But the best part is that the same email also included this:

It’s been interesting here: one hour elated the next in great fear. We had everything in the cars except the cats and ourselves last night. I slept in my clothes waiting to smell smoke. A cop had come by at 5:30 pm advising evacuation.

I am trying to imagine how in the world she was able to fall asleep under those conditions, yet she is able to rejoice in map awareness!  I think this is so fabulous.

I have a bumper sticker that I bought from a woman in a parking lot in Keaau; it reads “Puna. Not for wusses.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

Lastly, I have more proof of the invincibility of coqui: if you watch the videos of the flowing lava, not only do you hear the cracks, hisses, and booms, you can also hear the frogs croaking.  Unbelievable. Nothing shuts them up.


So many are suffering greatly

Last night I drove home from a dinner in Hilo. When I reached the turnoff for Lower Puna in Keaau, I saw the whole of the southern sky lit red from the erupting lava and accompanying house and brush fires 25 to 30 miles away.  Although I have spent the better part of the last 17 days reading about fissures and flows and fountaining, seeing the expansive red glow was intensely disturbing.  I’m used to seeing the red glow from Halema`uma`u, from the vantage point of my comfy bed, for goodness sake, but to see it in a place it ‘should not’ be, a place thousands of people call home, was a visceral shock.

Earlier in the day, when I first saw my sister, she immediately asked, “Are you all right?”  Apparently, I had a rather harried look about me.  Yes, I have been feeling stressed, especially since the 6.9 quake.  But seeing that red sky made me feel the idiot for all my worries.  The people in Lower Puna are suffering at a magnitude I cannot begin to comprehend.

If you want to help those folks, here is a link to a Hawaii News Now article about how to do that: help those in Puna.


lava for may 20 b

Volcanic eruptions in lower Puna are anything but over, USGS says

The statement above is going to be directing my life until it is no longer true.

Downslope, things are escalating: lava continues to explode and fountain, but a fresh breakout is surging precipitously towards the ocean; there are few access roads in that area, and people stranded by the quick-moving flow had to be plucked to safety by a National Guard helicopter.  (Lava has a way of moving people . . .)

In my possibly-excessive examination of the news, I found this ominous statement buried in an article: “What we found is that fissure 17, the big one that’s been going for a couple of days, is something completely different than we’ve ever seen on Kilauea.”

Ai yi yi. Something unknown this way comes.

But back to my neck of the woods.  Unexpectedly, the summit was relatively calm today, and I was able to leave a window open from morning till night without once feeling sick or smelling rotten eggs.  For distraction, I was grateful for the ubiquitous coverage of tomorrow’s nuptials.  I also made a (vegan) breakfast dish called Red Flannel Hash and a lovely marinara sauce, and it was another three-hat day.

Huh, I made a red sauce, a dish called Red Flannel and two red hats. Because Pele?

hats may 18



“Lava has a way of moving people”

That’s my favorite quote of the day (it was in reference to the evacuation holdouts whose homes are near the newly opening fissures).  Apparently lava also has a way of moving roads, as the above photo from Hawaii News Now shows.

It’s been a not boring day, as well as a day of conflicting information.  For example, Civil Defence sent out messages warning us to stay indoors and not drive because of the toxic air and ash fall, while the County told us to drive to various community centers to pick up free particle masks. Various organizations use color coding for danger levels, yet different agencies use different color schemes, so you better remember them all!  Plus, meteorologists, geologists, and vulcanologists speak different languages, and they aren’t clear about what’s happening in other fields; “I can’t speak to that” was a regular response to reporters’ questions. Plus, they are scientists, not public speakers.  So, all in all, good fun, if confusing. Bless all the people who are trying to help.

Outside smells like rotten eggs.  I feel deeply for the folks close to the fissures.  My throat and chest hurt; unfortunately, my new air purifier won’t arrive until next week.  But hey, my house is still standing, and I am very, very grateful for that.

Hat update: it was a three-hat day what with all the ‘stay inside’ admonitions.  I have plenty to choose from if you are in the market for a new hat.  You may think it’s not hat season, but I have some lovely light-weight versions, and they look smashing with masks.  I made an ash-colored one for the blendy effect, and they’ll all protect your do from ash fallout.  Win-win!


I’m going to try and get some sleep.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

If you like, these folks have some great photos and videos: Hawaii Lava Update





Shelter in Place update

There was an explosive eruption this morning at the summit. I was awakened at 2:30 am by the fact that my house was VIBRATING, and it continued to do so until after 4 (take away the fear factor, and the experience was not unpleasant!).  But the big explosion? I didn’t feel a thing.  As is the case normally, a Civil Defense warning was sent hours after the event actually happened: I received this at about 7am: Volcanic Activity Summary: At about 0415 this morning, an explosion from the Overlook vent within Halemaumau crater at Kilauea Volcano’s summit produced a volcanic cloud that reaches as high as 30,000 ft asl and drifted northeast. Continued emissions from the crater are reaching as high as 12,000 ft asl. At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent.

A text instructed us to shelter in place; schools are closed; a brunch with friends is canceled.  However, the porch that I just cleaned a few days ago is currently ash free due to favorable-for-me winds.  Apparently, I cleaned it in anticipation as an ash-measuring tool!

Summit webcam

We’ll see how the day goes, won’t we? I may have just now heard a series of explosions . . .

Stay safe, everybody, everywhere!




It’s getting realer

Cracks are appearing in roads near me. A Civil Defense employee came to my house to warn me about ash and toxic gas. Hawaii Volcano Observatory sent me the following message:

“As deflation continues, strong earthquakes in the area around Kilauea Volcano’s summit are expected to continue and may become more frequent. The shallow depths of these earthquakes make them more damaging in the immediate vicinity of the epicenter, and individuals need to take precautions to minimize damage from the shaking, including the removal of unstable items from walls and shelves.”

I live about six miles from the summit. Some of the recent earthquakes were centered almost directly underneath my property. And when they say more frequent earthquakes, more frequent than what? More than two hundred a day???? Geez Louise.

I have cleared shelves and walls; my home looks very different all of a sudden, and I am looking differently at it. I seem to be moving out of the “it’s happening to them” stage.

I briefly consider unsubscribing to Civil Defense and Hawaii Volcano Observatory text and email alerts, because every time I hear the ding of an incoming message my body goes YIKES. I think that maybe I should quit the internet all together for a while, to relax a bit, make another hat or two, but then I would lose the ability to vent (vent, ha) my feelings in these posts . . .

The air was strong with the smell of sulphur today, and my throat is quite sore. The air purifier I ordered is on its way; I’ll be staying indoors and keeping rolled up rugs against gaps to the outside. The chemicals in the air adversely affect this 5’8″ human body, but they are having no affect on the tiny *#@&*$# invasive coqui frogs whose insanely loud screeching croaks are like nails on chalkboard to me. What the? I had fantasized that the “quieting” of the coqui might be a positive outcome of this situation, but no. They are like the cockroaches of nuclear blasts.

Sorry. These are first world problems, I know. I also know that the folks downslope have it ten thousand times worse than I do. But writing this blog is helping at least one person on this planet: me.

Holy moley!

When I pulled out of my driveway on my way to run town errands this morning, I saw the above sight.

It is a plume coming up from Halema’uma’u.  Apparently, the water level has been breached! Instead of heading to town I turned instead towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to catch the action.

There were news crews on the spot, some friendly (KITV) some condescending (starts with a C; has two Ns) along with many fancy cameras and cell phones all pointed at the billowing plumes, which kept coming and coming, growing larger by the second.

Many people were excited and posing; some were thieving: one photographer who used my red shirt to frame some of his shots told me he’d been away from his unlocked car for two minutes when he returned to discover his phone had been stolen.

I’m amped up after what I saw this morning.  So much power.  I feel fortunate to have witnessed it.  Yet, had the wind been coming from the SW instead of the NE, this would be a very different post.  I wonder at the condition of the facilities at the National Park.  It’s not going to be the same there, that’s for sure. And downslope, fissure number 20 just opened up. The curse of interesting times.

small plume

plume 4plume 3

plume 6


Live all you can. It's a mistake not to.

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