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Lava flow slows, widens as it reaches open field

  • COURTESY USGS
    Lava continues to flow north toward Pahoa Town on the Big Island, approximately 2.1 miles from Pahoa Village Road.
  • USGS / HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    The leading tip of the lava flow was moving through thick forest Wednesday.
  • USGS / HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    Pahoa is in the upper right portion of this photo of the lava flow looking northeast in this photo taken Wednesday.
  • to the Pāhoa Village Road (government road) in Pāhoa within 18 days
  • and highway 130 in 21 days.
  • the USGS projects that lava could flow from its current location to Apa`a St. in 13 days
  • COURTESY USGS
    Using the most recent rate of advancement of 190 m/day (625 ft/day) between September 17 and 19, the USGS projects that lava could flow from its current location to Apa`a St. in 13 days, to the P?hoa Village Road (government road) in P?hoa within 18 days, and highway 130 in 21 days.
  • COURTESY USGS
    Using the most recent rate of advancement of 190 m/day (625 ft/day) between September 17 and 19
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The lava flow heading to Pahoa has slowed since Thursday and reached an open area past the thick forest.

An overflight of the flow Friday morning showed it advanced about 180 yards overnight and the front of the flow has widened from about 50 yards to 100 yards. 

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials reported that the flow advanced an average of 625 feet a day from Wednesday through Friday. This compares with an average of 960 feet a day between Monday and Wednesday, scientists said.

Depending on the speed of the flow, officials said, lava could reach Apaa Road in 13 days, to Pahoa Village Road (also known as Government Road) in Pahoa within 18 days, and Highway 130 in 21 days. These latest estimates are adjusted from Wednesday’s estimate of lava reaching Apaa Road in about eight days and Pahoa Village Road within two weeks.

But, officials caution, those projections can change as the speed of the flow changes.

Scientists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said fluctuations in the flow advance rate are common for pahoehoe lava flows.

The average rate of the lava’s advance has slowed since Wednesday to about 660 feet a day, compared to an average of 960 feet per day between Monday and Wednesday, scientists said.

The flow was about 1.5 miles upslope from Apa’a Street on the outskirts of Pahoa and has advanced about 10.1 miles from its source at Pu’u ‘O’o crater. 

The lava does not pose an immediate threat to homes and no evacuations have been ordered.

"There is no brushfire threat at this time and all burning is limited to the vegetation that is in direct contact with the flow. Smoke conditions were light to moderate at the flow however heavy vog from the Pu’u O’o vent was present this morning over the lower Puna areas and extending into Keaau and parts of Hilo," a Civil Defense message on the county website said Friday.

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