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Scientists project lava will cut through Pahoa town

    This image taken Wednesday shows he flow front in the northwest portion of Kaohe Homesteads. The leading portion of the flow front narrowed over the past two days and was roughly 150 m (500 ft) wide.
    This thermal image from Wednesday shows the scattered pahoehoe lobes that are active near the front of the June 27th flow.
    Pahoa is in the upper right portion of this photo of the lava flow looking northeast in this photo taken Wednesday.
    The lava flow front consists of numerous, scattered small p?hoehoe lobes Wednesday.

A new projection of the path of the lava in Puna shows the flow cutting through Pahoa town within two weeks.

The map, uses a satellite image and topographical data to estimate the lava’s path. Volcano scientists caution lava flow behavior is complex and subject to change.

Meanwhile, the lava appears to be picking up speed and narrowing as it flows downslope, toward the northeast and Pahoa.

Hawai County Civil Defense reported the flow advanced about 400 yards since Wednesday after an overflight Thursday morning. The front of the flow was about 50-yards wide.

On Wednesday, officials reported the flow moved about 350 yards and the flow front was about 100 yards wide.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory estimates the flow is moving at an average rate of 960 feet per day since Monday, slightly higher than its advance rate between Friday and Sunday of about 705 feet per day.

Smoke conditions were moderate to heavy Thursday morning. But there is no brushfire threat at this time and all burning is limited to vegetation in direct contact with the flow.

The flow was 1.7 miles from Apaa Road on the outskirts of Pahoa Thursday morning. It had advanced about 10 miles from the Pu’u ‘O’o vent since this latest episode of the eruption began on June 27. The actual length of the flow, including bends, is about 11.4 miles.

On Wednesday afternoon, volcano scientists estimated the flow could reach Apaa Road in 9 days and Pahoa Village Road in 13 days. Those projections may change if the flow continues to pick up speed.

By Wednesday afternoon, the flow covered about 10 miles, measured in a straight line from the vent into a forested northwest portion of Kaohe Homesteads, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

The flow was headed northeast toward Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130, the main thoroughfare used by about 8,500 residents daily, said Kevin Dayton, Hawaii County spokesman. The lava’s front was about 2.5 miles from Pahoa Village Road and 2.8 miles from Highway 130, he said.

Officials are hoping the flow will slow down when it moves out of a forested area and into a clearing where the ground flattens out, allowing the flow to spread out, Dayton said.

"There is no indication that the flow is going to stop," Dayton said.

Hawaii County officials will hold another community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Pahoa High School’s cafeteria to address how the lava might affect Puna residents.

Dayton said although the flow was in vacant land in Kaohe Homesteads, it was still a threat to the subdivision because a finger of lava could peel off the surface flow and head toward homes.

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