HILO, Hawaii — The Kilauea volcano erupted from its summit on Thursday morning, spewing an ash plume that could reach 25,000 feet above the island of Hawaii. Residents in the path of the ashfall were warned to shelter in place.
The eruption was the most forceful new explosion so far at Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Kilauea has already been triggering small earthquakes, creating gas-emitting fissures and releasing flows of lava that have destroyed dozens of homes this month.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued a “code red” warning that additional activity could be expected. “At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent,” the observatory said.
The winds were expected to carry the plume toward the southeast part of the island, the largest in the state of Hawaii, and the authorities warned motorists that driving could become dangerous if visibility was impaired.
A heavy rain was falling early Thursday over Hilo, the main city on the island. The moisture could make ashfall heavier, rendering roads unusable and exposing crops to damage. Television announcers warned residents to remain indoors, avoid driving and cover air intakes.
The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said the “explosive eruption” occurred shortly after 4 a.m. local time.