comscore LIVE BLOG: Parking area reopens; Lava crawls toward key highway
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LIVE BLOG: Parking area reopens; Lava crawls toward key highway

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  • COURTESY USGS
                                An aerial view of Fissure No. 3 on the northeast rift zone of Mauna Loa this morning.

    COURTESY USGS

    An aerial view of Fissure No. 3 on the northeast rift zone of Mauna Loa this morning.

Editor’s Note: Bookmark this page! This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.

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UPDATE: 4:08 p.m.

Hawaii County Police Department has reopened the parking area on old Saddle Road following the conclusion of a police investigation that closed the area for nearly five hours.

“The closure was due to an explosive device that was located and has since been neutralized,” police said in an email.

No communities are at risk during this time, officials said in a statement.

11:14 a.m.

Police have temporarily closed the lava viewing parking area on old Saddle Road on the Mauna Loa side of Daniel K. Inouye Highway between 28.5- and 34-mile markers to investigate, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency in a statement.

Police urge motorists to avoid the area to reduce traffic congestion.

“Also, remember walking onto the lava field is prohibited and discouraged. Doing so creates a substantial risk as the terrain is very difficult. You will be informed when the lava parking area reopens. We thank you for your patience and understanding,” according to a statement.

No other details were immediately available.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

The Mauna Loa eruption has reached its seventh day as the lava flow creeps closer north toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, which remains open to traffic in both directions.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports Fissure No. 3 as the only active flow with “minimal movement” and remains near the 7,000-foot elevation.

As of 7 a.m. today, U.S. Geological Survey officials report the front of the flow was about 2.3 miles from the key highway. Over the past 24 hours, the flow moved at an average rate of about 40 feet per hour with the rate of movement slowing over the past several days. USGS officials said the advanced rate may be “highly variable over the coming days and weeks” depending on the terrain.

>> RELATED: Hawaii island still draws home buyers despite eruption risks

USGS officials report the lava flows are thickening and spreading out as they move over the low-sloping ground. “The fronts of lava flows can break open unexpectedly, sending flows in several directions. Rain on lava creates steam and reduces visibility,” according to a statement. Officials said it was difficult to estimate when or if the flow will affect the highway.

For onlookers wanting to get a glimpse of the eruption, expect and plan for delays between the 28- and 34-mile markers due to reports of vehicle congestion. USGS officials are urging the public to stay in their vehicles to view the eruption and avoid approaching the flows.

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth on Friday announced the opening of a viewing area on old Saddle Road to relieve traffic congestion along Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Roth estimated 2,000 cars used the area to park Thursday night, allowing spectators to watch the eruption from a safe distance. See the map below.

 

COURTESY HAWAII COUNTY MAYOR MITCH ROTH
A map of the new traffic route to help mitigate traffic concerns due to the Mauna Loa eruption. Click here to view the map.

The speed limit has been reduced to 35 miles per hour near the Mauna Kea Access Road and Gilbert.

The observatory has reduced the aviation color code from red to orange. The Federal Administration Aviation has issued a temporary flight restriction in the eruption area from the surface to 1,500 feet above ground level.

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