Area officials in Hawaii are closely monitoring the situation surrounding one of the major artery highways on the Big Island as the lava flows from the recent eruptions of the Mauna Loa volcano could possibly shut it down.
Hawaii Route 200 spans well over 50 miles throughout the island between Kona and Hilo. The most recent release from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory from this past Saturday seemed to indicate that the flow of lava was only a short 2.4 miles from the major highway.
“Fissure 3 is generating a lava flow traveling to the north toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) that has reached relatively flatter ground and slowed down significantly over the past several days, as expected,” expressed the report.
A number of Hawaiian officials stood with Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI) in a request to the federal government for assistance via a letter addressed to President Joe Biden.
“We are not waiting for the lava to cross the DKI, we are preparing the @WhiteHouse now in the event that it does. Today, @RepEdCase and I sent a letter to the President to update and prepare the administration on the #maunaloa,” explained Kahele via a social media post sent out Friday.
We are not waiting for the lava to cross the DKI, we are preparing the @WhiteHouse now in the event that it does. Today, @RepEdCase and I sent a letter to the President to update and prepare the administration on the #maunaloa 🌋. pic.twitter.com/oiHyH4pTex
— Former U.S. Representative Kaialiʻi Kahele (@RepKahele) December 2, 2022
“Access restricted by the lava flow can severely impact emergency services as one of the island’s primary hospitals is located in East Hawai’i. Additionally, a traffic diversion will add significant congestion to two state highways,” expressed the letter from Kahele and the group of Hawaiian officials.
This past Thursday, experts thought that the earliest that these spawned lava flows could end up reaching the highway would be almost a week out, indicating a time of roughly the 8th or 9th of December. However, the actual speed of the lava flow is still entirely unpredictable and could rapidly change.
A number of live webcams set up by the U.S. Geological Survey still continue their effort to monitor and track the flow of the lava.
If the roadway does end up being blocked, the average commute times for the residents of the island could spike by multiple hours as they would need to utilize longer and more roundabout methods.
The volcano in question, Mauna Loa, first started erupting well over a week ago and spawned a series of lava flow warning throughout the surrounding areas.
The eruption of Mauna Loa, which has been marked as the largest active volcano in the world, was first discovered at roughly 11:30 p.m. local time on the 27th of November in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.