Hawaii officials are closely watching a major highway on the Big Island as lava flow from the Mauna Loa volcano threatens to shut it down.
Hawaii Route 200 covers more than 50 miles across the island between Hilo and Kona. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s latest news release on Saturday indicated that the lava flow was about 2.4 miles away.
“Fissure 3 is generating a lava flow traveling to the north toward the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) that has reached relatively flatter ground and slowed down significantly over the past several days, as expected,” it reported.
Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI) and other Hawaiian officials requested federal assistance in a letter to President Joe Biden.
“We are not waiting for the lava to cross the DKI, we are preparing the @WhiteHouse now in the event that it does. Today, @RepEdCase and I sent a letter to the President to update and prepare the administration on the #maunaloa,” Kahele tweeted on Friday.
We are not waiting for the lava to cross the DKI, we are preparing the @WhiteHouse now in the event that it does. Today, @RepEdCase and I sent a letter to the President to update and prepare the administration on the #maunaloa 🌋. pic.twitter.com/oiHyH4pTex
— Congressman Kaiali‘i Kahele (@RepKahele) December 2, 2022
“Access restricted by the lava flow can severely impact emergency services as one of the island’s primary hospitals is located in East Hawai’i. Additionally, a traffic diversion will add significant congestion to two state highways,” the letter from Kahele and other Hawaiian officials stated.
On Thursday, experts estimated that the earliest the lava could reach the highway would be in about a week, indicating a time around December 8 or 9. The lava flow remains unpredictable, however, and could change.
Several live webcams from the U.S. Geological Survey continue to track the lava flow.
The blocked roadway could add hours to commute times for residents as drivers seek alternative routes.
The Daily Wire previously reported that Mauna Loa began erupting more than a week ago, with lava flow warnings issued to the surrounding area.
The eruption of Mauna Loa, considered the world’s largest active volcano, was detected at approximately 11:30 p.m. local time on November 27 inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The overnight eruption also led to several small earthquakes recorded in the area.