- Mario Tama/Getty Images
- The alert level for the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii has been raised from “orange” to “red.”
- This indicates “major volcanic eruption is imminent, underway, or suspected with hazardous activity both on the ground and in the air.”
- Ash clouds have reached as high as 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level.
- The USGS has warned the volcano may become “more explosive.”
The US Geological Survey (USGS) raised its alert level for Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano on Tuesday evening.
The alert level has been raised to “red,” which the USGS defines as: “Major volcanic eruption is imminent, underway, or suspected with hazardous activity both on the ground and in the air.”
Early in the morning local time, eruptions of ash increased in intensity and have since been rising continuously. Ash-fall has been reported in Pahala, about 18 miles downwind.
The ash cloud has reached as high as 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level.
USGS confirmed on Twitter that a major eruption was previously underway, but the threat level was raised after increased emissions created a potential threat to aviation, causing possible delays.
“While ashfall may impact the other islands, depending on wind direction, it’s still safe to travel to Hawaii. However, you should expect the possibility of air travel delays/rerouting to avoid the ash plumes,” USGS said on Twitter.
The USGS expects ash emission to vary depending on rockfalls and other changes within the vent, but has said activity “may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent.”
This activity is in addition to a new fissure which opened on Sunday, spraying magma chunks over 100 feet in the air and spewing lava into surrounding forests and residential neighborhoods.
Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate.
The USGS previously had given an “orange” alert, indicating a major volcanic eruption may have been imminent but hazards were limited because of no or minor volcanic ash emissions.