Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has erupted, sending ash clouds 30,000 feet into the sky — here’s what it looks like on the ground

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday morning, sending an ash plume thousands of feet into the sky.

The eruption occurred shortly after 4 a.m. local time, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said. Authorities evacuated people from around Kilauea’s crater area and urged those in the vicinity of the volcano to take shelter.

The volcanic eruptions on Hawaii’s Big Island have been escalating for about two weeks, severely damaging nearby residential neighborhoods. More than 1,000 people have been evacuated so far.

Beyond the immediate fire danger from the lava, high levels of sulfur dioxide spewing from the volcano pose a serious threat to children, elderly people, and people with respiratory issues, the United States Geological Survey said.

Dramatic photos show lava pouring into residential neighborhoods around a series of volcanic fissures that have opened. Here’s what it looks like on the ground.


The eruption entered a more violent phase early Thursday, sending an ash plume as high as 30,000 feet into the sky.

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US Geological Survey

Source: Business Insider


The volcano has been continuously erupting since May 3, spilling lava into residential neighborhoods and forcing evacuations.


While the latest eruptions have been intense, Kilauea has long been known to be an active volcano.

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People play golf as an ash plume rises from the Kilauea volcano on Tuesday in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Earlier this week, the USGS issued a “red alert,” indicating that the ash plume from the eruption could affect air traffic.

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


More than 20 active fissures have broken open near the volcano, with many of them concentrated in the Leilani Estates neighborhood near Kilauea.


More than 1,000 residents still can’t occupy their homes as the eruptions continue.


Mark Clawson, a Leilani Estates resident, told Reuters he had evacuated to a safer location down the road from his house but didn’t know whether his property was safe.

Source: Reuters


“It’s less stressful for me being here than it would be for me being gone,” Clawson said.

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An aerial view of an active fissure in Leilani Estates on Sunday.
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REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Authorities have said there’s not much they can do to rescue any residents still trapped in the neighborhood or protect property as the eruptions continue.

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Lava flowing on a street in Leilani Estates on May 6.
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USGS/Handout

This before-and-after shot compares what one property in Leilani Estates looked like last May and on Monday, after lava rolled through.

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DigitalGlobe; Business Insider/Jeremy Berke

Lava flows can quickly scorch everything in their path.

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A lava flow emerges from a new fissure in Pahoa, Hawaii, on Sunday.
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USGS via Getty Images

In some areas, the lava is piled 40 feet high.

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Here’s an aerial view of the Leilani Estates neighborhood taken Friday. You can see where the lava has burned the formerly lush, green landscape.

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

The flows have downed power lines, buried roads, and destroyed homes.

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A lieutenant with the Hawaii National Guard measures levels of toxic sulfur dioxide gas near a lava flow in Leilani Estates on May 8.
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REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

“Most who stay here do it either out of grit, lack of options, or attachment,” a resident named Hazen Komraus told Reuters.

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Lava partially covers a yard in Leilani Estates on May 8.
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REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Source: Reuters


It’s difficult to predict how long volcanic eruptions will last — the USGS tweeted on Thursday that “volcanoes don’t work on schedules!”

Source: USGS on Twitter