Lava flowing from the world’s largest volcano continues to approach Hawaii’s largest island’s main highway, drawing concern from officials.
Mauna Loa erupted last week, spewing lava at a snail’s pace toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, which connects the two sides of the state’s largest island, moving at about 40 feet per hour, according to the United States Geological Survey. The lava flow is still over two miles away from the highway, allowing onlookers to stop and observe the fiery display.
As of Sunday afternoon, the lava flow was about 2.25 miles away from the highway, compared to 2.3 miles away the day prior and 3.6 miles away last week. Experts have raised concerns over the consistent flow of the lava.
“It is advancing every day,” Natalia Deligne, a volcanologist with the USGS at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told CNN. “We don’t know how long this eruption is going to last, and that will dictate whether or not the highway becomes more threatened.”
Though it remains uncertain as to whether the lava flow will continue onto the highway itself, such an occurrence would result in a major inconvenience, authorities warned.
“That is the main connection between east and west Hawaii — very, very high volumes of traffic,” Gov. David Ige (D-HI) told CNN. “If, in fact, the lava was to overrun the highway, then people would add half an hour to an hour and a half, depending on where they’re getting to, to their commute time.”
If the lava flow continues in the direction of the highway, it could reach it in about one week, but the flow remains unpredictable. Authorities would have ample time to warn residents if the flow does move to threaten the highway.
“And the staff at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say that they can provide at least 24-48 hours advance warning if the lava appears to be threatening the roadway,” Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Communication Director Adam Weintraub told CNN.